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NR School District levy down from 2012

The school portion of property taxes should go down a bit for a year for residents in the New Richmond School District.

District residents approved a $13.36 million levy for the 2013-14 school year at the district’s annual meeting held Monday, Sept. 16, at the New Richmond High School auditorium. The levy is more than 5 percent lower than last year’s, which was set at $14.08 million.

School board president Rick Hinz called the meeting to order at 7 p.m., and the voting body elected St. Croix Circuit Court Judge Scott Needham as the meeting’s chairman.

Jeff Moberg’s first annual meeting superintendent’s report included items information about growth in the district, ACT scores, educator effectiveness and an update on the Community Commons.

Brian Johnston, director of fiscal and building operations for the district, presented the 2013-14 proposed budget with more than 30 slides including a dizzying amount of financial information about the district.

Of the district’s $13.36 million levy, $6.85 million is set to go to the general fund, $6.3 million is set to go toward debt service and about $200,000 will go toward Community Education. When state and federal aid, and other revenue sources are factored in, the 2013-14 budget is $29.29 million. This year’s budget is about $7,800 lower than the previous year.

When calculating how much the district should levy, Johnston had to estimate what the district’s equalized value would be. His estimate was based on the fact that values were declining this year in the City of New Richmond, but up slightly in other surrounding municipalities that make up about half the district.

“We don’t have all the information yet,” Johnston said in response to a question about equalized values from the meeting body. “That doesn’t come out for schools until mid-October. I’m looking at the State Department of Revenue website and trying to figure out my best guess of where I think it’s going to end up.”

Another of Johnston’s slides showed New Richmonds 2012-13 mill rate of 12.65 as the highest among 10 school districts in the area. The next highest was Somerset at 12.28. Hudson was the lowest at 9.52.

Some positive trends were shown in a graph that illustrated less district money coming directly from property taxes and more money coming from state aid over the past five years. For 2013-14, state aid is projected to be about $21.3 million (up from $20.25 million), and property tax revenue will be about $6.85 million (down from $8.17 million).

On the expenditure side, the district has budgeted $30.29 million for the 2013-14 school year, including the levy amount plus $1 million it has in reserve. The bulk of that budget, about $14.31 million is budgeted for salaries, $6.29 million for employee benefits, $4.67 million for purchased services such as busing and other things the district pays other organizations to do.

Johnston pointed out that New Richmond ranked 32nd out of 424 Wisconsin school districts in cost per student in 2012-13 at $9,169 per student. That’s more than $1,300 below the state average.

In other business:

--Voters unanimously approved a resolution to authorize the board to sell school property not needed for school purposes.

--Voters unanimously approved a resolution to authorize the board to make temporary loans for current operation according to statutory requirements.

--Voters unanimously approved a resolution to authorize the school board to enter into lease agreements.

--Voters unanimously approved a resolution to freeze salaries for school board members at $3,000 per year along with $40 per diem for a portion of a day.

--Voters unanimously approved a resolution to authorize the reimbursement of board members for actual and necessary expenses incurred when traveling in performance of duties.

--Voters unanimously approved a resolution to authorize the establishment of accident insurance for students.

--Voters unanimously approved a resolution to set the next district annual meeting for 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014.

Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley worked at RiverTown Multimedia from July 2013 to June 2015 as editor at the New Richmond News. 
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