School Board backs .26 percent property tax dip

by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor

The Sheboygan Falls School Board approved the 2015-16 district budget featuring a .26 percent property tax levy decrease, during a monthly meeting Monday, Oct. 26, in the high school library.

The .26 percent property tax levy drop was the district’s second consecutive tax decline.

In 2014-15, the district had a .01 percent property tax decrease.

Prior to that, the district experienced a 3.98 percent tax levy increase in 2013-14 and a 1.04 percent decrease in 2012-13.

In announcing the 2015-16 property tax rate, Sheboygan Falls School District Director of Business

Services Mary Blaha said the tax increase is due to a combination of cost saving factors.

“Despite no allowable revenue limit increase and decreasing state aid, the district is investing in programs, maintaining a level total tax levy and paying off prior bonds at an advanced rate to save interest costs,” Blaha said. “This has been possible through attrition, limiting health insurance increases, reallocating resources from energy savings and utilizing resources from the OPEB trust fund.”

Blaha said the district has been able to decrease future debt service payments and save in interest costs.

“After the April 2014 election, the board determined that by levying additional funds for debt service for the elementary school, the district is able to reduce future debt service payments and save interest costs,” Blaha said. “A three-year commitment to the dash defea- sance plan would potentially save over $130,000 in interest costs and payoff the current long-term debt two years earlier.

“At that time, the projected debt service tax levy for each of the next three years would be $1,933,000,” she said. “Last year the district was able to make a strategic budget move to levy additional dollars to realize even more interest savings, maintain a stable total tax levy and decrease the projected levy amount needed in the next two years. That decision resulted in a total interest savings of $157,000. Levying a higher amount for debt service in year one allowed the board to less than $1933,00 this year and next year and still achieve the goal to save interest costs and reduce the payoff period for current long term debt. This year’s debt service tax levy is $1,754,800, which is down from last year when it was $2,212,000.”

Blaha went on to note that state aid decreased from $9,855,842 in 2014-15 to $9,272,661 in 2015-16.

“As predicted last year at this time, state aid has decreased,” Blaha said. “A decrease in state aid results in an increase in the property tax levy for the general fund. The lower amounts needed to levy for the debt service and community service funds help to maintain a stable total tax levy for school purposes.”

Blaha said the equalized valuation for the city also rose by 1.95 percent, which has provided an additional positive impact for the district.

After approving the 2015-16 district budget, the board approved a total tax levy of $8,972,243, which is a decrease of .26 percent from 2014-15 when it was $8,995,962.

The mill rate of 10.30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, represents a 23 cent decrease from last year, when it was $10.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Net total expenditures increased .47 percent from $23,282,720.96 in 2014-15 to $23,391,421 in 2015-16.

Total district revenue increased from $18,941,970.53 in 2014-15 to $18,975,740 in 2015-16.

A full report on the meeting will appear in next week’s Falls News.

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