Tax pictures vary for Muskego and New Berlin school districts
New Berlin loses out on key state aid that benefited Muskego
While more state aid has enabled the Muskego-Norway School District to reduce its property tax levy slightly for the current school year, the New Berlin district hasn't been so lucky.
New Berlin schools will lose more than $1.2 million in state aid, resulting in a levy hike or $1.1 million, or 2.45 percent. Unlike Muskego-Norway, New Berlin didn't benefit from the additional equalization aid the state provided.
Overall spending for New Berlin schools in the 2013-14 school year will also be up, by nearly $10.8 million or 17.8 percent, largely attributed to nearly $6.9 million in capital spending projects and a more than $2.2 million increase in the general fund tied to educational initiatives.
In fact, the huge hike follows budget year in which overall spending dropped 17.5 percent compared to 2011-12, with virtually no capital project expenditures. The increase this year bounces spending back almost up to where it was. Total spending of nearly $71.2 million this year is still less than the more than $73.2 million spent two years ago.
The $6.9 million in capital projects include more than $8.1 million in approved projects mainly related to energy savings and better heat and cold management.
The 4.8 percent increase general fund is due to new math curriculum resources, a data warehouse for continuous improvement efforts and other supports and tools for teachers to enhance learning. It also contains $1.1 million in projects, including $250,000 to replace seats in the Eisenhower auditorium, $75,000 to install new bleachers in the Ronald Reagan Elementary School gym and $180,000 to install security cameras and monitoring devices at Elmdale, Orchard Lane and Ronald Reagan elementary schools.
To keep taxes down, New Berlin will use $602,037 of its fund balance, leaving what officials call a healthy balance of more than $15.1 million. Credit reporting agencies consider a fund balance of more than 15 percent of the operating budget as positive, Roger Dickson, chief finance and operations officer, wrote to the School Board. New Berlin's balance will be 30 percent by the end of the year.
Muskego-Norway had a nearly no-increase budget with the schools spending more than $60.5 million this year, compared with about $60 million last year. The general fund budget of nearly $51.5 million is up a tiny 0.27 percent from last year.
The Muskego-Norway Schools got $550,582 more state aid from Act 46 that Gov. Scott Walker signed into law Oct. 20, said Julie Kelly, assistant superintendent and director of business and human resources. That meant the levy, which was going to rise about half a percent, will actually go down 0.38 percent. The levy is $32.6 million.
The schools have established a special permanent fund for capital projects and will place $900,000 this budget year. Keeping the money separate from the rest of the budget will help the district get as much state aid as possible under the state aid formula, Kelly said.
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