Board reviews 2015-16 tax rates, revenue cap
By Robert Cloud
Waupaca schools are facing more cuts in state aid in 2015-16.
Carl Hayek, the district’s business manager, told Waupaca School Board members Tuesday, Aug. 11, that early estimates for general state aid could drop from $8.56 million in 2014-15 to $8.2 million in 2015-16.
Since the 2008-09 academic year, Waupaca has seen its cumulative state aid drop by more than $4 million.
The largest cut occurred in 2011-12, when the Waupaca School District’s annual state aid fell by more than $1 million.
“Who picks up that burden on the revenue cap?” Hayek asked. “If you’re losing it in state aid, it gets absorbed in the property tax.”
Since 2008-09, the school district has raised its tax levy by a total of $3.37 million.
However, the district has consistently spent and taxed below the state-mandated revenue cap.
Over its past four budgets, Waupaca has set its tax levy below the cap by more than $2 million each year.
“Of 424 school districts in Wisconsin, only five tax $1 million or more below the cap,” Hayek said.
For 2015-16, the state has set Waupaca’s total revenue cap at $17.83 million.
Tax levy scenarios
Hayek presented three tax rate scenarios for the school board to consider as it prepares the 2015-16 budget.
Under the first scenario, the district levies property taxes to the full amount allowed by the cap.
The total tax levy – including general fund and debt service – would rise from $15.55 million in 2014-15 to $17.83 million in 2015-16.
If property values remain constant, the tax rate would rise from $11.16 per $1,000 of value to $12.80. The district’s share of property taxes on a $100,000 home would increase from $1,116 to $1,280.
Under the second scenario, the district levies taxes at $1.68 million below the revenue cap.
The tax rate would increase by 43 cents to $11.59 per $1,000 and the levy would increase to $16.15 million. The district’s property tax on a $100,000 home would rise to $1,159.
Under Hayek’s third scenario, the district levies taxes at $2.08 million below the cap.
This would increase the tax rate by 15 cents per $1,000 and increase the levy by approximately $205,000.
Hayek estimated that the district needs to compensate for an estimated $321,000 in increased costs for 2015-16, as well as the state aid loss of $356,000.
The second scenario, which increases the levy by nearly $605,000, would bring the district’s revenues within $72,000 of projected expenditures.
Hayek said the estimates are still preliminary until the district receives final numbers from the state.
“We’re not going to know a lot of things until September or October,” Hayek said.