Janesville65.1°

School tax levy up 19%

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
October 24, 2007
— Time for math class.

This shouldn’t be too hard.


Just a little adding and subtracting.


For starters, this is the year that Janesville taxpayers start paying off the $70.8 million loan to rebuild Craig and Parker high schools.


This year’s payment on that debt will be about $7.43 million.


Add that to the tax bill.


This is also the year that the state budget got finished so late that lawmakers couldn’t find a way to increase its biggest school-aid program, known as equalization aid.


So subtract about $2.77 million from the amount that school officials estimated they’d get in state aid this year.


Add that to the property tax levy as well.


All in all, the school tax levy will rise by about 19 percent, to $34.72 million, district business director Doug Bunton told the school board Tuesday night.


But the Legislature did manage to pump more money into the school tax levy credit, which reduces a property owner’s tax bill.


So subtract the levy credit.


What does it all mean?


School officials aren’t entirely sure, but they have an estimate.


Bunton said he hasn’t seen precise figures on how much the levy credit will help, but he guessed the average home would see an increase in school taxes of about 14 percent over last year.


City of Janesville finance director Herb Stinski took a look at the school district’s tentative figures this morning and estimated that school taxes in the city would increase by just over $1.13 per $1,000 of assessed property value.


The school tax on the average city of Janesville house, assessed at $112,700 would rise by about $128 over last year’s level, Stinski said.


Stinski further estimated that the school tax credit would reduce that increase to around $85.


Bunton plans to have more precise figures available Monday, when the school board will set the levy.


Bunton did not propose that the board consider cutting this year’s budget to soften the property-tax blow.


Bunton said after the meeting that he considered the idea, but he figured that it would be nearly impossible to cut much from the budget, with a third of the fiscal year already over.


Contracts are set, supplies all are bought, teachers have to be paid, buses have to run and utilities must be paid, he said.


Bunton said the board could, however, dip into the fund balance—a reserve fund used for a variety of purposes, if it wanted to lessen the tax impact.


The board could do that when it sets the tax levy at a special meeting on Monday, he said.


WHAT’S NEXT

The Janesville School Board is scheduled to set the tax levy for the 2007-08 budget at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St.



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