Whitewater could see tax hike
WHITEWATER Taxpayers in the Whitewater School District could see a 13 percent increase in the tax rate unless the school board cuts the budget.
The problem is a reduction in the district’s state aid, said Jim Strasburg and Dick Peterson, who are sharing the job of interim business manager.
State general aid to the school district dropped about 7 percent, or more than $640,000, compared to last school year, they said.
Aggravating the problem is the addition of three special education teachers, or about $200,000, as part of a 10-year plan in Walworth County to shift special education costs from the county to local school districts, Strasburg and Peterson said.
Other state aids, including transportation aid, also dropped, they said.
Total school district spending is proposed to increase about 4 percent, from $24.6 million to $25.6 million.
But because revenue from state aids is dropping, the tax levy would jump 11 percent, from $12.3 million to $13.7 million, driving a tax rate increase of about 13 percent, from $8.63 to $9.79 per $1,000 of assessed value.
That means the school district’s share of taxes on a $100,000 home could go from $863 to $949.
Strasburg and Peterson said where the school district could make cuts is a mystery.
School building budgets already were cut 2 percent, and several positions were cut through attrition, they said.
“Our budget is close to the revenue cap. It isn’t like the district is trying to overextend itself,” Peterson said. “We’re looking at where we can legitimately reduce some areas, and we’re somewhat limited.”
A public budget hearing is tentatively scheduled for Monday, Sept. 28, before the regular school board meeting.
In the meantime, the board likely will continue budget discussions and provide more direction to the business managers.
School board President Chuck Nass said the district must make a conscious effort to reduce school taxes. He said looking at it as a taxpayer himself, a 13 percent increase in the tax rate is too much.
The board will ask district officials to look at all areas for possible cuts, Nass said.
“We’ll be asking them to be creative and to come back to us with better numbers,” he said.
WHITEWATER SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET
A look at the 2009-10 budget for the Whitewater School District:
Highlights: The district lost more than $640,000 in state general aid. The district also is picking up the cost of three special education teachers, or about $200,000, as part of a 10-year plan in Walworth County to shift special education costs from the county to the local school districts.
What’s next?: A budget hearing is tentatively scheduled for Monday, Sept. 28.
This year $25.6 million
Last year $24.6 million
This year $13.7 million
Last year $12.3million
(Per $1,000 of assessed valuation)
This year $9.79
Last year $8.63
Note: Percent changes calculated on whole numbers.