Milton School District residents approved the district’s tax levy as recommended at the budget hearing and annual meeting Monday, but not without questions.

Residents voted via paper ballot at Northside Intermediate School, with 107 voting “yes” and 14 voting “no.”

District officials recommended a tax levy of about $18.29 million, including about $15 million for current school operations, about $2.9 million for referendum debt and about $237,000 for community services.

The levy is about 24.8% higher than last year’s $14.66 million levy.

The projected 2019-20 tax rate is $9.15 per $1,000 of equalized property value, an increase of $1.33 over last year’s tax rate of $7.81.

Resident Chuck Jackson asked if the entire budget could posted on the district website.

He also asked to see what the budget and tax rate would look like without the $59.9 million referendum voters approved in April. In other words, he said he wanted to see “same store sales.”

School board member Brian Kvapil raised questions about increases in specific categories. School board member Diamond McKenna said Kvapil had asked no questions of the finance committee or board, and Kvapil acknowledged he had been given budget information about two weeks ago.

Resident Lance Fena said detailed information was provided to the public in previous years.

Interim Superintendent Rich Dahman replied that such information can be made available to the public, and audience members started talking loudly.

“We can probably do a better job of making it (detailed budget information) available,” said school board President Joe Martin, who was chosen as meeting chairman.

Jackson said every committee should put documentation on the website.

“It shouldn’t be up to us to ask for information,” resident Terri Fena said. “You’re asking for us to fund things. Given the history, we have concerns.”

Martin replied again, “We can do a better job of presenting the information.”

The school board can make adjustments to the levy on or before Nov. 1, according to state statute.

Unknowns include:

  • The third Friday student count used for the revenue limit.
  • Fall property valuations certified by the state Department of Revenue.
  • The amount of state aid from the state Department of Public Instruction.

Looking at only the school tax, the owners of a home valued at $100,000 will pay $915, an increase of $134, while the owners of a home valued at $200,000 will pay $1,830, an increase of $268.

Todd Hajewski, a consultant with Baird, highlighted a 6.6% increase in equalized growth, totaling nearly $2 billion. On the expense side, he pointed to $550,000 with 70-plus students enrolling out of the district.

Some who attended the meeting, including McKenna, former director of administrative operations Jerry Schuetz and former school board members Shelly Crull-Hanke, Jon Cruzan and Bob Cullen, wore anti-bullying T-shirts. McKenna would not say where her shirt came from.