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Funding for public entities in Wisconsin
I like the way Governor Walker and his administration has made funding for public entities in Wisconsin. There has been a cap placed on property tax levy increases by state law.
These restrictions are on local town and village boards as well as the city councils, school and county boards. But those caps do not mean the death of those entities, as the law allows each one to ask the voters for a sum that will override the levy limit.
At the recent mid-term election, a limit override was put before the voters in the Township of Springfield for road improvements, but voters turned that down.
Over the years school districts in the state have asked voters for limit overrides and debts for new construction and improvements to school facility. The voters accepted most of these referendums.
I received a newsletter from the Wisconsin Policy Forum last week with the headlines stating: “School Referenda Reach New Heights”.
“Just before the recent election, the Wisconsin Policy Forum reported that 2018 was shaping up to be the highest year on record for school referenda in terms of both dollar value and percentage passed. On November 6th, voters set records for both by passing measures to exceed state-imposed revenue caps and increase their property taxes.
“The stage was set by an improving economy and indications that larger numbers of voters now favor spending more money on schools. We found that since 1999, the number of referenda on the ballot and the share of referenda approval have dipped during times of economic downturns and their aftermath, and risen during times of economic recovery.
Heading into the election, 82 questions totaling more than $1.4 billion in debt and revenue increases were on ballots across 61 school districts statewide. Voters approved 77 (94%) ballot questions worth $1.37 billion across 57 school districts, Forty-two are to issue debt totaling $1.2 billion; 21 are for non-recurring revenue limit exceptions adding up to $140.6 million over time periods requested; and 14 are for recurring, or permanent, revenue limit exceptions totaling $26.1 million per year.
“When combined with results from earlier in the year; these figures bring the passage rate for 2018 to 90 percent and total dollars approved to more than $2 billion. That makes 2018 the highest year on record in terms of the total dollar value as well as share of ballot questions passed. The number of referenda (157) is also the highest seen since 2001.
“The successful school referenda came amid a robust economy and record midterm election turnout. The Associated Press shows more than 2.6 million Wisconsinites voted, more than in any past midterm and equal to 59 percent of the state’s voting-age population.
“Some referendum results were determined by a narrow margin, such as the 33 votes that decided Big Foot Union High School District’s $7.8 million referendum. Goodman-Armstrong School District’s bid for a non-recurring referendum of $750,000 per year failed by 17 votes. In all, there were 16 questions where the outcome was determined by less than 200 votes.
“More than 3,100 referenda have been placed before voters since the 1993-94 school year, when the state first imposed per caps on the amount of money districts can raise through state aid and local property taxes.
“The largest referenda were in Middleton-Cross Plains ($143.7 million) and Wauwatosa ($124.9 million). Both districts sought the funds to build schools and undertake renovations. Property taxes on a $250,000 home will increase by $498 in Middleton-Cross Plains and $470 a year in Wauwatosa.”
Back in 1964, our first home, a one-bedroom affair on Maple Street was taxed at $126.00, total tax. But then my pay was less than $2.00 an hour and a new car was under $3,000 and we had never heard the word “Sales Tax.”
Thanks for reading! ~Carlton