Germantown residents pass slightly smaller district levy
Electorate moves to put more funds into school facilities
Germantown — Germantown residents could see a slightly smaller school tax bill in coming months.
At the district's annual meeting Monday, about a dozen residents passed a $29.13 million tax levy to support the School District's $42 million 2013-14 general fund budget. This reflects a 1.14 percent decrease from last year's levy, or about $350,000 less than the 2012-13 school year levy. The decrease is in the district's debt service fund, with the general operations fund increasing by nearly $300,000.
The estimated tax levied on a home valued at $250,000 totals $2,368, which shows a decrease of 1.87 percent compared with the 2012-13 school year. The tax rate rate per $1,000 of equalized value is $10.19. Last year, it was $10.31. However, taxes are paid on the assessed value, not equalized value.
Residents on Monday also approved the capital projects and community service fund budgets for the current school year. The capital projects budget finances remodels, repairs and improvement projects at district buildings.
Germantown resident Jill North made a plea to residents and district administration to boost the capital projects fund.
"You just talked about our long (maintenance) list of not what I would call a wish list, I would call a need list, for parking lots, roofs, etc., that the $525,000 falls way, way short and there's much, much more to be done," North said.
Board member Bruce Warnimont made a motion to increase the fund to $1 million for the coming year. A motion residents approved. In the recommended budget, the fund was set at $525,000, which was a $100,000 increase from last year.
According to state law, when one fund is increased, that money has to come out of the general fund levy, which in turn decreases, Director of Business Services Ric Ericksen said.
There was a $900,000 surplus at the end of the 2012-13 school year and Warnimont said the $475,000 taken from the general fund and put into the capital projects fund can be made up for with the surplus funds.
Ericksen said boosting the capital projects fund to $1 million is feasible. He said in the last few years lease payments for the boiler system have been eating into that fund. Those payments are starting to come down sharply and should help free up money to go toward remodeling and repairs.
Facility maintenance and overcrowding in district buildings have been ongoing issues in Germantown for years. During the annual district report, Superintendent Jeff Holmes said building maintenance is a major concern.
For this reason, School Board President Bob Soderberg said the board launched a full facilities study to help in long-range planning for district buildings.
"Our buildings are getting old and maintained the best we can," Soderberg said. "At a couple of schools we are educating students in the hallways."
The size of fund 41, or the capital projects fund, has to be established at the annual meeting. Warnimont said $525,000 is not nearly enough to address the maintenance issues in the school buildings.
"I don't think a million dollars is enough either, but it's all we can afford," he said.
He added that the money doesn't necessarily have to be spent this year. However, it will allow them to immediately start projects once the facilities study is complete.
Soderberg fully supported the decision. He also said he would like to wait to spend the money until the facilities study is complete as it will allow them to make a priority list and help the board decide what to tackle first.
The community service, or fund 80, was set at $100,000 for the coming year. Warnimont encouraged residents to participate in the Senior Tax Exchange Program, which is supported by this fund. STEP affords people over the age of 62 the opportunity to volunteer in district schools in exchange for a maximum of $430 off of their school tax bills.
BY THE NUMBERS
million in Capital Projects fund
percent decrease in tax levy
million tax levy
general fund budget
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Falls police investigating armed bank robbery
- Police Report: Dec. 2
- Germantown police investigating slew of overnight vehicle break-ins
- Common Core up in the air
- News & Notes: Nov. 26
- Cameras OK'd for all grade schools
- New Pick 'n Save hiring 125 employees (1)
- Police Report: Nov. 25
- Firm hired to review water rate, seek savings
- Germantown police pressed to process prints to catch tobacco litterbug