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Muskego - Although Muskego-Norway School District voters approved a 26-cent per $1,000 property tax increase to pay for borrowing $43.2 million for the schools, there will be no tax increase after all.

The borrowing is to build a new middle school, add onto Mill Valley Elementary School, convert Country Meadows/Bay Lane Middle School into a 100 percent elementary school and to do parking lot work at Lakeview Elementary School. The plan includes consolidating from five to three elementary schools.

"Property taxes will go down, even with borrowing for the new school," said an elated School Board President Rick Petfalski.

The welcome news came at the district annual meeting last week at Muskego High School.

The tax rate will fall from the previous $10.31 per $1,000 of equalized value to $10.14 per $1,000. Equalized  value is an estimate of a property's full market value, rather than its assessed value which is what is the value on which it is actually taxed.

The smaller tax impact is the result of favorable borrowing rates and higher enrollments that brought in more state aid, he said. School officials also budget conservatively and the tax base grew 1.15 percent, officials said.

The tax levy for school purposes will be $32.2 million, which is o.1 percent lower than the previous levy, even with payments for the $43.18 million debt. This is the sixth year in a row the tax levy will decrease.

With the additional students this year and the growth in the tax base, state aid will pay more of the bills. The state equalization aid that made up 35 percent of the district's revenue last year has jumped to 37 percent.

The number of resident students rose by 60 this year.

That probably didn't come from building new subdivisions, Petfalski said. Students from those will likely come later, he said.

"I think most of it came from families moving here with kids," he said.

Also increasing the student count that brings in more state aid is the success of the summer school program, officials said. It continued to grow, adding 20 full-time equivalent students.

The number of nonresident students attending Muskego-Norway Schools under the state Open Enrollment program also has bounced back after losing 14 last year. The district added 17 this year, each one bringing $6,748 in state aid with him or her. Total state additional aid from the Open Enrollment students is  $114,716.

Total enrollment stands at 4,911 students.

The general fund, regarded as the operating budget to educate those students, is $53 million, or $366,625 and 0.7 percent more than the previous year.

School officials said that because of the complicated nature of tax levy, tax rate and tax levy credit the most accurate way to analyze local school taxes is to view the actual property taxes on a home over a number of years.

So, tracking a home with the average Muskego assessed value of $268,500, they found that school taxes remain below 2007 values.

They also noted that while school property taxes were holding steady, the value of the home rose.

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