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NEW BERLIN - Funding to go solar at four New Berlin schools, for a possible day care center and for a medical clinic for staff and their families are contained in the proposed New Berlin school budget for next year.

Despite the initiatives, the proposed budget is only slightly higher than this year's spending plan.

And largely because tax base has grown, the school property tax rate might fall 22 cents, to $10.94 per $1,000 of full market value, school officials estimate. That would mean $55 less in school property taxes for the owner of a $250,000 home. 

That is only an estimate, however. Taxpayers pay property taxes based on the assessed values of their properties, not their market value. However, assessments are supposed to be close to the full market values.

The proposed school property tax levy is about $51,485,112, which is $511,888 more than this year's levy. Nearly all of  that increase is due to a drop in general state aid, another major funding source for the budget, said Roger Dickson, chief financial and operations officer.

The school board is slated to adopt a preliminary budget Monday, June 26. A budget hearing and annual meeting will take place Aug. 28. The budget will be finally adopted Oct. 23.

Borrowing debate

The levy and budget numbers are approximate at this point, because they hadn't been recalculated after a proposed $4 million borrowing failed on a tie vote at the New Berlin School Board meeting on June 12.

That borrowing proposal could still win approval if there is a reconsideration of the tie vote. Only one of the three members voting against would have to change his or her vote for the borrowing to pass.

Voting against borrowing those funds were Jody Kugler, Susan Manley and Krislyn Holaday-Wondrachek, who said they were uncomfortable adding more on top of what the district has already borrowed. They expressed fears of getting into fiscal difficulty that might result in cuts impacting classrooms.

Voting for the proposed $4 million borrowing, most of which would be used for HVAC replacement and repairs at New Berlin West Middle/High School, were board President Tom David, and members Jeffrey Kurth and Amy Crosby. Nate Nickerson was absent and did not vote.

Restoring the $4 million borrowing to the budget would cut the property tax savings roughly in half, Dickson said.

Initiatives

The projects in the proposed borrowing are on the district's long-term facilities plan that the school board has already approved.

If the school board decides to go ahead with solar energy initiative at the four schools, there will be money in the budget to make that happen, Dickson said.

The district's share of the estimated $2 million cost would be $500,000. The Focus on Energy statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program would pick up $350,000, and the remaining $1.15 million would have to come from a private financier, he said.

The schools involved would be both Eisenhower and West middle/high schools, and Elmwood and Ronald Reagan elementary schools. 

Similarly, there is $350,000 in the proposed budget for next year to create an onsite day care facility and a medical clinic, ideally in the same location, Dickson said. Both would would have to pay for themselves, and not rely on any tax dollars, he added.

Like the solar initiative, the day care and clinic would need board approval.

By the numbers

Total budget (all funds) proposed: $68,052,785

Total budget this year: $67,502,315

Dollars and percent difference: $550,470, or 0.8 percent up

General fund budget proposed: $55,032,657

Current general fund: $55,500,441

Dollars and percent difference: decrease of $467,784; or minus-0.8 percent

 

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