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EM School District anticipates 16 percent jump in school taxes

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND — Residents in the Elk Mound School District can expect a 16.38 percent increase in their school property taxes for this year.

The increase in property taxes is due mostly to a $400,000 decrease in state aid through Act 10 passed by the state legislature last year, said Ron Walsh, school district administrator, at a meeting of the Elk Mound Board of Education July 30.

Last year Act 10 cut school revenues by $550,000, he said.

The school district’s revenue is projected to increase somewhat but the amount of state aid is “way down,” Walsh said.

The school district can implement an increase of $50 per student, but that only amounts to $50,000 more in revenue, he said.

The Elk Mound district is expecting an increase in enrollment this year, but the increase in enrollment will not affect this year’s state aid, Walsh noted, adding that state aid is calculated on a three-year rolling average.

An increase in property taxes is expected in spite of a savings to the school district of almost $300,000 from Act 10 requiring school district employees to pay more into the Wisconsin Retirement System, Walsh said.

The school district’s mill rate last year was $9.40 per $1,000 of property value and is projected to be $10.91 per $1,000 of property value this year, he said.

The last time mill rates were in the $10 range was in 1998-99, Walsh said.

The tax levy will increase from $1.75 million to $2.2 million, he said.

“The real driver (for the increase in property taxes) is a reduction in state aids, said Jim Holte, board member.

The school district’s proposed Fund 10 budget for 2012-2013 is $10.7 million, and the budget includes the maximum amount of tax levy that is allowed under state law, Walsh said.

Other business

In other business, the Elk Mound Board of Education:

• Learned that teachers report back to school on August 28.

• Learned that middle school athletics starts August 20.

• Approved making no changes to the fees for senior athletic passes, athletic fees and driver’s education. The Dunn-St. Croix gate fee is currently $3 for students and $4 for adults. Season passes are $40 for adults and $30 for students. The driver education fee is $100 and is primarily used to offset the total cost to the outside provider of $310 per student.

• Approved increasing lunch fees by 10 cents. Federal law does not allow the school district to charge less than the average reimbursement for the free or reduced lunch program. An elementary meal will be increasing from $2 to $2.10. Middle school and high school meals will be increasing from $2.30 per meal to $2.45 per meal. Adult meals will remain at $3.50; milk will remain at 35 cents per half pint. Ala Carte will remain at $1.45.

• Accepted the low bid on bread from Sara Lee. No information was given about the bid amount.

• Approved changes to the open enrollment policy that will allow school administrators to make decisions on accepting open enrollment students who are outside of the regular timeframe. State law allows 20 days to make decisions on accepting open enrollment students, and Walsh said if the policy was not changed, the school board would end up holding many special meetings to vote on the open enrollments. State law allows students to open enroll outside of the time allowed in cases where the student is being bullied or in some other situation where it would be in the best interest of the student to change schools.

• Approved for a first reading a policy on board-staff communications.

• Approved revisions to a policy about visitors to school that includes school board members..