The Waupaca School Board approved a $14.34 million tax levy for the 2012-13 year after a public hearing Tuesday, Oct. 30.
The approved levy is $90,864 less than had been proposed earlier.
The original proposed budget had been based on state aid estimates from the state Department of Public Instruction in late July.
In October, the DPI certified that the district would receive nearly $100,000 more in state aid.
Waupaca schools will receive a total of $8.88 million in state aid this year.
The district’s mill rate will be $10.40 per $1,000 of assessed value, a drop of 6 cents from the rate proposed earlier.
Last year’s mill rate was $9.20, which raised a levy of $12.95 million.
Dr. Dave Poeschl, the district administrator, said the increase in the tax levy was due to the steady decline in state aid over the past four years, rather than increased spending.
Carl Hayek, the district’s business manager, noted that even as the district seeks to cut costs by reducing staff through attrition, it also faces rising costs for supplies, utilities and contractual obligations.
He also noted that Waupaca is one of only 14 school districts in Wisconsin to spend at least $1 million less than allowed under the state revenue cap.
Waupaca ranks fifth in the state in terms of the difference between what the district is allowed to tax and what it actually levies.
During the public hearing, local resident Greg Oerter asked if it were possible for the district to make further cuts in spending.
“I’m here because you folks spend more of my money than I get to,” Oerter said.
He asked if the district had considered contracting janitorial services or transportation.
Poeschl replied that the district had contracted for some of its janitors but had found no evidence that the district could save money by contracting for its bus service.
School board member Steve Johnson said the district has worked to maintain low taxes.
“I think this board and this administration have been very sensitive to the economy,” Johnson said.
Poeschl said the district would need to make substantial cuts to essential programs in order to avoid raising taxes.