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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.

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

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.

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