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Despite Reduced State Aid, School District Taxes Will Drop

When funding drops, taxes typically go up. However, several actions taken over the budget planning cycle have allowed district leaders to reduce the total burden on taxpayers.

For the seventh consecutive budget cycle, state funding for the Menomonee Falls School District will fall. However, property taxes will drop for the second consecutive year despite the loss in state aid.

Typically, when a school district loses state or federal aid, the gap in funding is made up with an increased tax levy. Not in Menomonee Falls.

“Most levies are increasing in this upcoming year around the state based on what happened last year, but we were able to manage the levy and keep it down for another year,” said Director of Business Services Jeffrey Gross.

Despite a significant cut in both state and federal aid, MFSD leaders managed to reduce the overall tax levy from last year by roughly $200,000 to $38.2 million. As a result, the equalized tax rate will fall 0.4 percent from $11.47 to $11.42 per $1,000 of assessed value.

State funding will again drop by the maximum allowed, which is 15 percent of the prior year’s funding. Funding from the state will drop from $10.3 million to $8.8 million. For comparison, during the 2006-07 school year the district received $17.5 million from the state. From that budget year on, aid was slashed on an annual basis.

The district accomplished a levy decrease by paying down long-term debt, increasing energy efficiency, and transitioning to a self-funded insurance system. The district reduced its medical and dental costs for district employees by roughly $400,000 as compared to last year. The district also trimmed spending by 2 percent.

Gross also shifted several facilities and utilities expenses out of the instructional budget to the recreation department budget. The shift isolated certain recreational activity costs to the proper fund, and freed up more funds on the instructional side.

The district also utilized the remaining federal Jobs Act funding to preserve class size and programs.

In the face of reduced funding, the district still deployed an up to $800,000 project to improve the technological infrastructure of the district. It also implemented a new laptop program fro incoming freshman.

The preliminary budget continues to evolve as more information comes in for financial planners. Menomonee Falls residents will have the opportunity to vote and approve the school district tax levy at the annual meeting. The School Board could also approve the preliminary budget on Aug. 13 at its regular meeting.

Jann July 29, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Ben. I'm well aware that Gina is your mom. Her back room deal was telling the union she would get the rest of the board members to vote yes on what she discussed with them without them there. Yes they will let me talk and thank me for my comments and then do opposite of what I suggest. I contacted the board years ago about the half days off that my kids laughed at. I was emailed back (yep, still have the emails) saying thanks we will take a look at the fact that you and your kids think we have too many half days and the the next calendar had even more. Belling was correct...if you know what I mean. Please just go back to school and let us taxpayers have our say.
Ben Dederich August 02, 2012 at 06:15 AM
The back room deal you seem to be referring to was the normal contract negotiation with the teachers' union, which was always conducted in a private setting, long before my mother was on the board. During this particular negotiation, Act 10 hadn't taken effect, and the school board (and the teachers) were left in an odd situation. They could either negotiate a new contract, or wait until Act 10 became effectual law. If they waited, and then the law was still delayed, the current contract would have held until it was finally passed. The school board made the extremely intelligent choice of negotiating a contract before that deadline that ACHIEVED NEARLY ALL OF THE FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF ACT 10, with teachers contributing to their insurance and pension just as Gov. Walker demanded. This contract was an insurance policy for the district: if Act 10 was further delayed (which, at the time, Alberta Darling told them was probable), they wouldn't be sucked into paying for a couple more months under the previous contract. Since Act 10 was passed shortly thereafter, it didn't really matter, but I guarantee there was almost no financial benefit in that "back room" contract for the teachers. Their end of the bargain was to show that "hey, we can contribute more to our insurance, just allow us to negotiate in the future". My mother and other board members are not paid-off union pawns. They took a safe course of action in a difficult situation to save the village money.
Jann August 06, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Ben, the school board is supposed to work for the taxpayer. We should not have to hear about something that was basically passed already behind our backs without us first having a say in the matter. That is a very poor way to conduct business. And in my opinion is a back room deal. I don't care how long it has been going on, it's not right.
Objective Supporter of Education August 08, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Jann, You are clueless with respect to who the school board represents and how their decisions impace the community. The board represents the quality of education and attractiveness in the Village, and guess what--that includes teachers and parents like me. I'm not a teacher, not a liberal, not a conservative. I'm a parent who appreciates the work teachers perform that is underappreciated, but also I need to be involved in the process of educating myself on these issues to stay balanced. You take stabs at Michelle, and you do not know her, or Lori for that matter, you don't know them. Michelle (as a parent and volunteer) has spent countless hours educating herself and parents on the issues with education, and I'm thankful for her passion. Try and think for yourself, countrary to most conservatives, Belling is not always right and in the case of our New contract, he was 100% wrong. We used all the "tools" of Walker (who I voted for 2x now), and while taxes are stable, our schools are in desperate need of parents to be involved and help foster a "community" within the schools. Wake up and see this is not a partisan issue, our education needs to be solved by people who care about our kids, teachers and community (not just the bottom dollar).
Jann August 08, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Objective Supporter of Education: You can't read or spell. Where did I take a stab at Michelle? I was a VERY involved parent volunteer while my children were in the school district. That doesn't mean I don't expect my taxes to not be one of the highest in the county year in and year out. Our school district has a lot of waste. I heard this first hand from an employee of the district. This person is a taxpayer here and came right out and said "I can't believe how much I get paid for what I do." My children have had some very good teachers and some really terrible teachers. I'm glad the terrible teachers will have to answer for their lack of effort rather than get an automatic raise.

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