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Waupaca plans $16.4 million levy

School district’s state aid drops

By Robert Cloud

One more year and the Waupaca High School building will be paid off.

The Waupaca School District’s proposed 2018-19 budget includes $2.86 million for its Fund 39 tax levy.

Fund 39 is referendum-approved long-term debt payments, while Fund 38 is non-referendum short-term borrowing and Fund 10 is the district’s operating budget.

This year’s school budget will be the last to have any Fund 39 debt payments since a referendum allowed the district to borrow $32 million in November 1998.

The bonding was used to build a new high school and remodel the old high school to make a new middle school.

Carl Hayek, the district’s business manager, said the drop in debt service should have an impact on general state aid for operating expenses.

“More debt means less state aid,” he said.

At the Oct. 9 school board meeting, Hayek said the district has seen a cumulative loss of $3.8 million in state aid since 2008.

Although there were increases in state aid of $217,000 in 2016-17 and $196,000 in 2017-18, Waupaca’s general state aid is projected to drop by $136,000 again this year to $8.55 million.

Less state aid has put pressure on local property taxes to make up the difference.

The district’s Fund 10 tax levy for 2008-09 was $9.3 million.

The levy for the proposed 2018-19 school budget is $13.3 million, a cumulative increase of $4 million.

The district has taxed below its state-mandated revenue cap every year since 2009-10.

Hayek said the district’s decisions to levy below the allowable limit have saved taxpayers $16.38 million over the past 10 years.

This year’s proposed budget will be the first to levy to the revenue cap since 2008-09.

In April, voters statewide approved 56 out of 66 school referendums, for a total of $566 million.

The referendums supported borrowing for new schools and facility upgrades and spending above the district’s revenue cap.

Although Waupaca has spent below its revenue cap, the gap between the levy and the cap has been shrinking.

In 2012-13, the district levied $2.7 million below its cap. Last year, it levied $537,000 below the cap.

When asked if Waupaca may need a future referendum to exceed its revenue cap, Hayek said, “Do I see us needing to exceed the revenue cap? No, I do not.”

Waupaca’s proposed 2018-19 budget includes a total levy of $16.4 million, which includes revenues to cover Fund 10, Fund 39 and Fund 38.

Fund 38 is the non-referendum debt service of about $216,000 annually to pay for Comet Field. Three more years are left on the original $1 million loan.

The district’s 2018-19 property tax rate is projected to be $10.69 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

On a $100,000 home, the district’s portion of the tax bill will be $1,069.

The 2017-18 mill rate was $10.79.

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