The Evansville School District wants to know what size referendum residents might support.

A survey offering five potential price tags is being sent next week.

A referendum could be on the ballot as soon as November, said District Administrator Jerry Roth, but he stressed no decisions have been made.

“The school district is our community,” Roth said. “It doesn’t belong to employees or the school board. We work based on (the community’s) advice.”

The survey will include a list of needs determined by a citizens advisory committee and will ask residents what they would be willing to pay for, Roth said.

Participants will choose from among five price tags that would be paid off over 20 years, Roth said.

Options include:

  • $34 million, costing taxpayers an additional $15 per year per $100,000 of equalized value
  • $38 million, costing taxpayers an additional $37 per year per $100,000 of equalized value
  • $42 million, costing taxpayers an additional $59 per year per $100,000 of equalized value
  • $46 million, costing taxpayers an additional $82 per year per $100,000 of equalized value
  • $50 million, costing taxpayers an additional $105 per year per $100,000 of equalized value

The district faces about $65 million in needs, Roth said. He understands not every concern can be addressed simultaneously.

The biggest need as identified by the committee is JC McKenna Middle School, Roth said. The survey includes three options to renovate the school or build a new middle school.

The survey will also ask participants if they would approve an operational referendum that would cost $1.2 million a year for five years, Roth said.

Voters approved two operational referendum questions in 2014, adding $104.37 per year to tax bills, according to a previous report from The Gazette.

Taxpayers will finish paying for the 2014 referendum in 2019.

A new operational referendum would replace the one from 2014, Roth said.

By the numbers

The school district’s tax rate was $11.50 per $1,000 of equalized value for the 2017-18 school year, the lowest since 2010-11, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

The highest rate in recent years was $13.62 in 2014-15.

The Evansville School District tax rate was the fourth-highest in Rock County behind Clinton, Beloit and Parkview school districts, according to the department.

The school district tax rate is only a portion of residents’ tax bills.

The city’s share of the tax rate for 2017 was $7.01 and has hovered between $6 and $8 since 2005, according to the alliance.

As of 2013-14, Evansville had the lowest municipal tax rate among the five cities in Rock County, according to the alliance.

Property tax bills also include taxes levied by the county, the state and Blackhawk Technical College, according to the alliance.

Completing the survey

Roth said the survey will be similar to the process used before the 2014 referendum.

The 2014 survey indicated residents wanted the district to ask about a facilities referendum again in three to five years, Roth said.

The survey was created by School Perceptions, an independent research firm, based on recommendations from the district’s citizens advisory committee, Roth said.

The committee has worked since September with Bray Architects to assess facility and education needs.

The committee will analyze the survey results and make recommendations to the school board in April.

Reporter - Albany, Brodhead, Evansville, Footville, Orfordville, health

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