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Levy hike predicted for N.B. schools

Aug. 18, 2014

New Berlin — A proposed school budget calling for a potential 3.78 percent property tax levy increase will go before New Berlin residents at the district annual meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25, at New Berlin West Middle/High School, 18695 W. Cleveland Ave.

School officials say that the school tax rate won't go up 3.78 percent because New Berlin is expected to grow 2 percent. That would reduce the impact of the levy increase to 1.78 percent, officials said.

But that assumption and a few other budget figures were challenged by Ralph Heun of the New Berlin Citizens for Responsible Government at last week's board meeting.

The city of New Berlin projects only a 1 percent growth in the tax base, not 2 percent as the schools predict, he said, leaving the potential increase at 2.78 percent. He said it's troubling that the school expects the tax base to grow more than the city does.

The solution could lie in that the schools use the full value or equalized value of property to estimate the size of the taxbase as opposed to the city which uses the actual assessed value of the taxbase. Each property has its own assessment and pays city and school property taxes based on that assessment.

The city's assessed value is expected to grow 1 percent this year while the more theoretical equalized value is expected to grow 4 percent, according to the New Berlin assessor's office.

Heun also was critical of a proposed 10 percent hike in administration totaling $381,868 next year and a 38 percent hike in pupil services totaling $229,749.

By state law, school officials could not respond because the budget was not on the agenda, but may respond at the annual meeting.

Total expenditures for the 2014-15 school year are proposed at $69 million which is 2.95 percent less than the previous year.

But proposed fund 10, regarded as the operating fund, is $943,208 or 1.9 percent higher than last year. Fund 10 is proposed at $49,973,168.

The proposed levy is $49,284,332, compared with $47,490,450 last year.

State aid is expected to be up slightly and the schools will save about $3 million in the capital projects category. However, revenue in that area is down more than $6 million so the schools plan to use $671,720 of surpluses. That would leave the capital projects surplus at $1,814,200 by the end of the year.

There will be no budget-related layoffs and the district will give 3 percent raises next year.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: New Berlin School District annual meeting on the proposed 2014-15 school budget

WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25

WHERE: New Berlin West Middle/High School, 18695 W. Cleveland Ave.

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