Fox Point — Residents living in the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District will likely experience a property tax decrease for the upcoming school year, based on preliminary information.
At a School Board meeting last week, Business Administrator Gary Swalve said he anticipates the property tax levy decreasing 4.19 percent, from slightly more than $7 million in 2010-11 to more than $6.7 million in 2011-12.
Because of the referendum passed two years ago, Swalve said he anticipates the district staying in the black with Gov. Scott Walker's proposed 2011-13 biennial budget added into the mix. He said he expects about $134,000 to be placed into the reserves in the fund balance because revenue will likely outpace expenditures.
"For this 2011-12 budget, our return to fund balance would be approximately $486,000 were it not for the changes in the revenue limit formula imposed by the governor's budget bill," Swalve said.
When the 10-year referendum passed in 2009, Swalve said plans called for $400,000 of the $800,000 in additional property tax levy money to go into the fund balance; the remaining $400,000 was to go toward operational expenses. A higher fund balance generally gives a district a higher bond rating and helps tie the district over late in a calendar year until property tax money comes in after January.
"At this early stage in the 10-year referendum calendar, we should not be nearing a zero return to fund balance - quite the opposite," Swalve said. "We should be building our capacity to balance our annual budget without any reliance on referendum proceeds."
Swalve said the anticipated financial pinch will make it more challenging to build up previously depleted funds, such as the district's operations and maintenance budget.
"We had intended to increase this category by $40,000," Swalve said. "However, that cannot be done under the current constraints."
As work goes into building the 2011-12 budget, Swalve said there are already some known factors in place. Among them: an additional $111,000 will be placed into the salaries and benefits category, per the terms of already settled, negotiated contracts. The district also is anticipating a $70,000 increase in Other Post Retirement Benefits.
Swalve said he will present the School Board with a draft budget for action in May or June, in anticipation of presentation at the district's annual meeting in July. At that time, residents within the district will vote on the property tax levy for 2011-12.
- Dave Fidlin
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