School board approves budget
Wega-Fremont’s levy, mill rate drop
By Angie Landsverk
Taxpayers in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District will see a decrease in the mill rate that supports their schools.
The school board adopted a 2016-17 expenditure budget of $9.8 million by a vote of 7-0 on Monday, Oct. 24.
The vote took place at a special meeting of the board, following this year’s hearing and annual meeting on the budget.
The budget will be supported by a levy of $4.806 million, which compares to the 2015-16 levy of $5.04 million.
The school district’s mill rate will be $7.69 per $1,000 of property value, 63 cents less than the present school mill rate of $8.32.
That means the owner of a $100,000 home in the school district will pay $769.44 to support the local public schools, which is $62.83 less than the $832.27 that same homeowner paid to support the district’s 2015-16 budget.
District Administrator Scott Bleck said this year’s full-time equivalency enrollment average is 841 students.
That number is a three-year rolling average based on enrollment counts, which include the third Friday count in September and the summer school enrollment.
That number was 860 a year ago and was 869 in 2014 and 885 in 2013.
It was noted there were 51 full-time equivalency students in summer school, which figured into the calculation.
The district’s revenue limit has been declining annually.
Bleck said the district is experiencing one of the lowest revenue limit reductions in recent years.
For the 2016-17 school year, the district’s revenue limit is $8.12 milion, which is a $7,328 reduction from the previous school year.
The amount of general aid the district will receive this year is $3.33 million, an increase of $228,199 over the $3.1 million it received in 2015-16.
Bleck said the general state aid helps offset the community’s cost of public education.
“State aid did increase. That did not increase our revenue limit,” he said.
The school district’s equalized valuation increased 3 percent.
Drew Niehans, the district’s business manager, said the district takes a conservative approach when projecting its annual growth.
As a result, the district had been projecting 1 percent growth.
If the school district’s upcoming referendum is successful, and the district sees another year of growth like it just experienced, that will shrink the referendum’s impact on the mill rate, Niehans said.
He also noted there is a misconception in the public related to the district’s Fund 10 balance.
Of the district’s $5.7 million Fund 10 balance, $450,000 is committed to the district’s insurance plan, he said.
The fund may also be used for projects, like the HVAC project that took place at Weyauwega Elementary this year.
Of the $5.7 million in the fund, $5.25 million is committed to operations.
Niehans said the district maintains such a balance in the fund so it does not have to do any short-term borrowing for its payroll.
Ten years ago, the investment environment was different, he said.
Niehans said the fund balance will be helpful with the district’s bond rating if the referendum is successful.