Spending down $1M in budget plan

Shawano School District plans public hearing Aug. 31
By: 

The Shawano School District might be tightening its belt during the new school year and offering taxpayers a little relief in the process.

Administrators have presented a spending plan for the 2016-17 school year that trims spending by $1 million and lowers property tax collections by $225,000.

Under the plan, the owners of a typical $100,000 home would see their property tax bill for schools decrease by $18, from $1,031 to $1,013, in approximate terms.

Spending would total $37.6 million, down from $38.6 million the previous year.

The decrease in spending is a function largely of reduced capital expenditures now that the district has completed its $10 million renovation of Shawano Community Middle School — a project that involved a combination of borrowing and operating funds.

Officials plan an Aug. 31 public hearing on the 2016-17 budget, followed by an annual meeting Sept. 19 for a public vote by school district residents.

School Board member Rich Belongia said the spending plan seems to meet the school system’s needs while allowing for lower property taxes based on projected growth within the district.

“I think the people will be happy,” Belongia said. “Some years, you get lucky.”

Property tax collections last year increased $140,000, but they are projected to go down next year from $13.1 million to less than $12.9 million, assuming property values in the school district hold steady. It would be the first decrease in school property taxes in five years.

The tax rate for property owners would decline from $10.31 to $10.13 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The budget also is based on projections of enrollment growth in the district, from 2,393 students to 2,425.

Louise Fischer, the district’s business manager, said the budget could require adjustments later if enrollment is different than expected, if property values go up or down, or if the district’s state aid changes.

Given the complexity of the formula for school funding in Wisconsin, Fischer said, “It’s hard to predict anything.”

Administrators presented the School Board with a preliminary budget forecast on Monday, and the board voted 6-0 to advance the plan to the public hearing.

Under the plan, the district’s general fund would increase from $26.5 million to $27.5 million, while the capital fund would drop from $2.3 million to zero, the food service fund would decrease from $1.8 million to $1.6 million, and the district would create a new long-range capital spending plan with an initial allocation of $100,000.

The food service fund decreases, Fischer said, because $200,000 was allocated there last year to help pay for the middle school renovations.

AT A GLANCE

Shawano School District property tax collections

2011-12 — $11,916,369

2012-13 — $12,737,023

2013-14 — $12,928,232

2014-15 — $12,980,551

2015-16 — $13,120,065

2016-17 (proposed) — $12,894,429

Source: Shawano School District