Small increase in property taxes for Janesville School District possible

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Nick Crow
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

JANESVILLE--Homeowners could see a slight increase in their school property taxes next year if funding estimates for the Janesville School District hold true, officials said Tuesday night.

Chief Financial Officer Keith Pennington, however, said the numbers are likely to change.

"At least it gives us a good opening idea, a good shot, a good number to put in pencil to move forward," he said.

Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released its projected equalization aid for the district, which was a 2.4 percent, or $1.59 million, increase from last year.

The aid, combined with property tax revenue, makes up most of the district's revenue. Pennington said the numbers can change until Oct. 15, when enrollment figures are submitted to the state.

"It's not etched in stone," Pennington said. "It's an estimate, but it gives us an idea."

The increase in state aid would lead to about a $430,000 decrease in the local tax levy for operations, Pennington said. But payments to referendum and nonreferendum debt service, which aren't affected by state aid, are due to increase. The net result could be a slight rise in property taxes.

For the owner for a $100,000 home, property taxes would increase about $4 if current numbers stay the same, Pennington said.

The total levy increase would be about $105,000.

Board member Bill Sodemann said the district's revenue cap, which is around $90 million, is the total amount the district can get for its operating budget without going to referendum. That means whenever state aid increases, property taxes for operational purposes must decrease, he said.

In the district's case, the referendum debt service will translate to a wash or a very small property tax increase, Sodemann said.

“It's (an increase in state aid) good for local property tax payers because taxes will go up very little,” he said.

Equalization aid accounts for about half the district's budget. The rest comes from property taxes, federal aid and other sources, Pennington said.

“I guarantee the numbers I talk about ... will change," he said. "There's no way around it.”

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