Taxpayers in the New London School District will benefit from an added $104,000 in state aid for 2013-14.
While it’s not a windfall to a district with a $32.8 million annual budget, the added state aid means the property tax levy for schools will increase 6.1 percent rather than the 9.8 percent projected at the annual budget hearing in September.
The owner of a home assessed at $150,000 will pay $94 more in school taxes, according to district business director Joe Marquardt.
With final student count and state aid figures in hand, the New London School Board on Monday, Oct. 28, approved a 2013-14 budget of $32.16 million.
The board also approved operating, debt and other tax levies totalling $10,139,205.
That is $580,184 more than the 2012-13 levy of $9,559,021.
It equates to a mill rate of $10.31 per $1,000 of taxable property valuation.
A property tax bill includes money for local school district; county; city, village or town; and vocational-technical school.
More Aid, Less Spending
The final aid figure for New London schools is $14,849,009.
Although it is more aid than projected in September, it is still almost $5 million less than the $15,343,214 the district received for 2012-13.
An unexpected increase in enrollment also factored into the school’s revised tax levy data.
More students generally means a district can collect more tax dollars, but this enrollment increase reduced the local district’s “declining enrollment exemption.”
That exemption is offered by the state to offset the financial impact of enrollment changes from year to year. Enrollment also is averaged over three years in the complicated school funding formula.
“We get more kids, but we get to spend less,” Marquardt said. “It’s hard to wrap your brain around the rationale of funding.”
New London’s extra $104,000 in state aid is part of state legislation that provided an additional $40 million to schools statewide.
It is not extra spending money for the district. The money has to be used to lower the tax levy and provide property tax relief, one of Gov. Scott Walker’s goals.
Marquardt noted that the district has reduced its budget in recent years.
Refinancing debt this year cut $300,000 from the new tax levy, according to Marquardt. The district’s largest debt is money approved by voters to build the new high school in 1998; payments continue through 2018.
Board member Jim Auer said, “We are not asking the taxpayers for any more than we need.”
Changes in health insurance plans offered to district employees in 2014 are designed to save money and reduce expenditures while providing service with low premiums, Marquardt said.
The base plan will be an HMO, with buy-up provisions to the current plan and buy-down options to a high deductible plan. All three plans are offered by Network Health, of Menasha.
The district also will require teachers and administrators to pay the 10 percent premium share for dental insurance that other employees pay.
Monthly premiums for the HMO plan will be $555.17 for single coverage and $1,260.31 for families. Employees pay 10 percent of the premium — $55.52 or $126.03.
The HMO has deductibles of $250 for single coverage and $500 for families. There are co-pays for some services and prescription drugs.
Marquardt described the changes as minor and said the new plan still provides an incentive to be an employee of the school district.