The New London School District’s tax levy is expected to rise for 2014.
Declining enrollment, rising property values and the new Wisconsin state budget point to a 5 percent increase in the 2014 tax levy, according to Joe Marquardt, director of business services for the district.
Marquardt summarized the financial situation at the Monday, July 15, meeting of the New London School Board.
“There’s never a positive in a tax increase,” Marquardt said, pointing out that the district had no increase for 2013 and a decrease of 2 percent in 2012.
On July 1, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction provides school districts with an estimate of how much state aid they will receive. The final aid figure is released on Oct. 15.
The DPI estimates New London will receive $14.6 million, a decrease of 4.3 percent, or $655,000, from 2012-13.
Factors in state aid are:
• Declining enrollment. New London is down 60 “fulltime equivalent” students for aid calculation.
• Rising property values. The state Department of Revenue increased the value of property in the school district by 1.65 percent.
• State budget. The 2013-15 biennial budget for Wisconsin includes an increase of 1 percent for school aid. More than half of the school districts in the state will receive less state aid because of this small increase, according to Marquardt.
The same factors determine how much money the district can collect in taxes.
Marquardt called the drop in enrollment and rise in property values a double-edged sword for the district.
Tax dollars provide 90 percent of the district’s budget, Marquardt said earlier this spring. State aid and private grants provide the other 10 percent.
The school district’s budget for 2012-13, excluding debt, was $24,288,605. Of that, $22,531,600 came from property taxes and state aid.
The budget and tax information will be available late in August, in advance of a public budget hearing Sept. 9, Marquardt said.
Funds for Fun
The new state budget also caps the amount of money a district can levy in taxes for Fund 80, which pays for seven communitywide programs ranging from a police liaison to library and fitness activities.
The Fund 80 budget for 2012-13 was $255,000 – with $124,000 coming from the tax levy. The district had $125,000 in its fund balance to spend, which helped lower the tax portion of Fund 80, according to Marquardt. Revenue for the program also comes from fees paid by participants.
“The seven programs we support provide valuable community opportunities for kids and adults,” Marquardt said.
The Fund 80 programs are: police liaison officer; Racing for Education; after school program; STEP program; fitness center activities; community play; and evening library. Programs are open to the public – for example, Marquardt noted that private school students can participate in the after-school activities.
With the budget constraints, Marquardt said, the district will need to reduce programming and increase user fees.
Board member Virginia Schlais suggested compiling a count of how many people use each program.
The board plans to discuss Fund 80 at its meeting on Monday, July 29.