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Residents Turn Out in Force to Approve 3.7% Tax Levy Increase

Roughly 150 Whitefish Bay residents voted unanimously in favor of a school district budget that would increase taxes by a maximum of 3.7 percent compared to last year.

About 150 residents came to the Whitefish Bay School Board's annual meeting Wednesday night to unanimously approve a .

Advocates For Education, an organization aimed at promoting quality public education in Whitefish Bay, urged many residents to come to the meeting to prevent any possible surprises in the voting outcome – like last year's meeting, when a group of residents .

Advocates For Education President Liz Sanders said she was pleased to see such a large turnout Wednesday night in the humid high school auditorium.

"On behalf of Advocates For Education, I would like to express our delight with the number of education supporters that attended the meeting," she said. "It is an honor to be part of a community that can endure sauna-like conditions to ensure our schools have the resources they need to succeed."

Under the budget for the 2012-13 school year, the estimated property tax levy will increase by 3.37 percent to $21.8 million. That levy could be adjusted by the board when the levy is ratified on Nov. 1. In the meantime, the district's budget numbers could shift as it receives more information in late September about enrollment numbers, as well as the certification of final state aid numbers on Oct. 15.

Under the budget, the owner of a $400,000 home would pay $4,352 in school taxes — a $142 increase from last year. The assessed tax rate is $10.88 per $1,000, a 35-cents-per-$1,000 increase over last year's tax rate.

Last year, the same homeowner saw their .

However, Shawn Yde, the district's director of business services, said the tax increase could be much lower than that, because the state will likely give the district more state aid than the district budgeted for.

Yde said he budgeted on a $269,000 decrease in state aid, but in late July, the state Department of Public Instruction estimated the district would actually see a $208,000 increase in state aid.

If the DPI is correct in its projections, the district would receive an additional $477,000 in revenue, bringing the the tax levy from a 3.7 percent increase to a 1.1 percent increase over last year's levy. The $142 tax increase on a $400,000 house would drop to a $46 increase.

"Depending how state aid comes in...I would expect that number to be closer to a $46 increase than a $142 increase," Yde said.

The district expects to receive $9.3 million in state aid, which makes up 31 percent of the district's revenue. The projected $9.3 million includes $2.2 million in integration aid from the Chapter 220 program and $7.1 million in state equalization aid.

The district added the equivalent of 1.83 full-time employees this year. Twenty-four new teachers were hired this year, most of which were hired to replace teachers that left the district or were reassigned within the district.

The district's enrollment is expected to increase by 59 students this year, according to Information Management Systems, a consultant hired by the district. Those numbers will be known for certain when the state releases enrollment numbers on the third Friday of September.

The School Board reduced some ongoing costs this year by . The benefit modifications are expected to save the district $2 million per year.

Shorelander September 10, 2012 at 03:48 AM
I'm legitimately curious what other issue(s), besides sewers, are not being attended to in the Village. Explain? It's odd for you to suggest the public's annual school board meeting is an illegitimate way to approve the budget, like the result would be different using any other method, like a paper ballot. It wouldn't, and as I said above, you know that.
Bob McBride September 10, 2012 at 04:54 AM
I don't know that having the budget approval vote handled as a referendum put on a regular ballot, with polls open as they would be for an election would necessarily net the same results - nor do you. I'd find the results of a vote taken in that fashion at least as interesting as you've indicated you would a similar vote taken regarding the sewer issue. I think it's well worth considering. Who could possibly be against opening the process up to folks for whom an evening meeting might not be the ideal time to vote or who might not even be aware of such a vote being held? Certainly, having an opportunity for more of the Village's residents to weigh in the on the issue would be a good thing, would it not?
Bob McBride September 10, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I didn't say they weren't being attended to - those are your words. They are being "attended to" - but, due to their nature as it relates to those things that seem to interest most of the population, they tend not to garner the attention or sense of urgency some of the more trivial issues in this Village do. I'd suggest you attend a few Village Board meetings. They can be eye opening. Then again, given the way you seem to prefer things be done, you probably wouldn't have a problem with single source bidding on projects ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, in some cases pushed through upon the recommendation of the Village Manager, despite objections by some members of the board - because that's the way it's always been done. Two such instances I witnessed related to letting out an year long auditing contract to a former employer of the person recommending the contract and a bid related to the maintenance/reconstruction of the water tower. And those were just at the meetings I attended which, frankly, wasn't the majority of them. You sure don't want a regular public vote held on that school budget, do you? I think you've made that pretty clear.
shorelander fan September 11, 2012 at 02:16 AM
There was a public vote on the School District's budget. It took place September 5th. Every household in WFB received notice that the vote was to take place. Next year every household will receive notice again. If 2000 people show up for that vote all will be given a chance to do so. It is the law. Or Bob, would you prefer that this yearly process take place in a way that cost taxpayers additional money? Balloted elections that utilize our polling places are not free.
Bob McBride September 11, 2012 at 11:45 AM
That doesn't address the issue of people for whom voting at a night meeting is a problem. As for the cost, perhaps we'd end up saving money if the budget wasn't being rubber stamped by a special interest group every year. The bottom line is you people don't want a standard vote at the polls because you'd have no way of judging which way it was going and, therefore, you'd be unable to text all your buddies to hurry up and come in to vote, if necessary. It would also increase potential for more senior citizen involvement, as they are less likely to go out at night to vote and are also more likely to vote against the budget. And you don't want that. If you had no fear of potentially losing under a regular vote, you'd not object to it. You're willing to put the sewer thing to a referendum vote and, unless you were suggesting that be done at an informational meeting where those most concerned with sewer problems are more likely to be in attendance and they could use the same methodology to call in reinforcements if it looked like the vote wasn't going their way, then that's going to have some cost associated with it as well. Cut the crap. You like the system the way it is because the odds are in your favor. What we need to do, if the process isn't going to change is to stop referring to it as a vote of approval by "residents" and call it what it actually is - an endorsement of the budget by "Advocates for Education".

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