The Waupaca School Board approved a $31.47 million budget for the 2010-11 school year when it met Tuesday, Oct. 26.
The budget will be supported by $12.99 million in local property taxes, $12.22 million in state funds and $2.21 million in federal funds.
The 2010-11 tax levy is $504,000 (about 4 percent) higher than the 2009-10 levy.
The school tax rate will be $8.86 per $1,000 of equalized value, which is 46 cents or 5.5 percent higher than last year’s mill rate.
The 2010-11 mill rate will mean $1,329.70 for schools on the tax bill for a $150,000 home.
“The school district’s levy is $1.6 million less than what we could levy,” said Harley Hellerud, the district’s business manager.
“Last year, the state gave us $850,000 less in equalized aid. This year, our equalized aid was reduced by approximately $790,000,” according to District Administrator Dave Poeschl.
Poeschl said the district could have raised 2009-10 property taxes by $1.6 million to meet its revenue cap and cover the cut in state aid. Instead, the levy was raised by $300,000.
“We left $1.3 million of revenue cap on the table last year,” Poeschl said. “Our concern as we move forward is that every year you leave money on the table you lose your ability to recoup some of it.”
Poeschl said the school board decided against raising taxes to the full amount allowed by the state’s revenue cap due to consideration of taxpayers and local economic conditions.
He noted a steady drop in state aid has been the result of difficult budgets in Madison and declining student enrollments in Waupaca.
“As our enrollment has gone down, we’ve adjusted our staffing accordingly to keep it in line with our needs,” Poeschl said.
The district’s total budget is divided among several primary areas: General Fund ($12.46 million), Special Education ($3.16 million), Debt Service ($3.13 million), Food Service ($1.08 million) and Student Activities ($580,000).
The salaries and benefits for most teachers and staff are included in the General Fund. Total cost for salaries increased by 0.3 percent to $12.46 million, while benefits rose by 6.9 percent to $5.47 million.
In Special Education, which includes preschool and entitlement programs, total staff salaries dropped by 0.4 percent to $2.2 million while benefits rose by 5.3 percent to slightly more than $800,000.
The Food Service budget rose by 2.2 percent to just over $1.7 million. However, the district will not raise lunch rates for students and will cover the difference from the fund balance.
Hellerud said the district’s debt payments will rise by $100,000 in the 2010-11 school year. The district will cover the higher payments from its fund balance.
“Our consultants built in to the financial plan debt service payments that would go up. It was based on the premise that equalized values would go up. This year, that didn’t happen,” Hellerud said.
The district is also levying $100,000 to go toward future liabilities for unfunded retirement benefits.