School Board approves preliminary budget for 2016-17
Stevens Point Area Pubic School District Board approved a preliminary budget for the 2016-17 school year that shows a potential decrease in the tax rate, but administration cautioned against relying on those figures.
“This data is completely unreliable because there are so many changes that will happen,” said Tom Owens, district director of business services. “We don’t have any data on equalized value until October … nobody should report anything like the (tax) levy is going down because this is unreliable … there is not enough information to say that at this time.”
Monday, June 13, the School Board unanimously approved a preliminary budget as a matter of procedure.
“This is a best guestimate,” board member and Business Services Committee Chair Amy Dailey said. “It’s a statute that we have to have a budget in place to pay the bills … until we have the official budget in place this fall.”
Wisconsin State Statutes require school districts to adopt a preliminary budget during the summer in order to continue to conduct business. The state’s contributions, school enrollment and equalized valuation, all of which impact the school district budget, are among the crucial items not known until the fall. The board will adopt an official budget at that time.
Preliminary budget figures show the district operating at about a $1.2 million deficit, with expenditures coming in at $93 million and revenues coming in at $91.9 million.
Owens said the difference at this point will be made up through a cuts in legal services, various buildings and departments, and savings expected through retirements and resignations. Further savings, he said, could come through the use of Act 32.
“Administration has jumped right on it (the deficit),” Board President Meg Erler said. “We’ve gone back and asked all our schools, all our departments to fine tooth comb their budgets. There’s not a lot of wiggle room in the budget … administration is committed to bring this budget into balance.”
Should all of the preliminary figures remain the same, district residents’ tax rate could drop to $8.10 per $1,000 equalized valuation, a decrease of 3.34 percent from last year’s school tax rate of $8.38 per $1,000.
That means property owners with land and a home valued at $100,000 would pay $81 in public school district taxes for the year, those valued at $150,000 would pay about $132 for the year, and those with property valued at $200,000 would pay about $160 for the year.
The determination of equalized value in the fall could affect those numbers, Owens said. The preliminary budget is estimated with the same equalized value as this past year: about $4.13 billion.
Historically, that value has changed between 1.5 and 7 percent, so “projecting at this point, there’s no way to know,” he said.
Other items that will affect the budget and are not known until fall are federal projects, any change in cost per pupil, categorical aids and general aid from the state.