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District will spend more than it receives


Budget hearing set for July 26



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July 21, 2010 | 08:45 AM
Williams Bay — School district residents here will have a chance to weigh in on the district's budget for the 2010-11 school year at the annual meeting, 8 p.m. July 26 in the large lecture hall at Williams Bay Junior/Senior High School, 500 W. Geneva St.

By state law, it's also a chance for electors to vote on the school tax.

The district anticipates spending $586,131 more than it takes in next year, despite trimming about $54,000 from next year's budget in supplies, licensing and deferred textbook purchases, said Williams Bay Superintendent Fred Vorlop. Reasons for the projected shortfall include declining enrollment and increases in teacher pay and benefits, Vorlop said.

The district's general fund is expected to raise $6,904,450 in taxes and other revenues, with anticipated expenditures of $7,490,581. The $586,000 difference would be covered by a reserve fund of $1.117 million, Vorlop said.

The tax rate is expected increase about 3.3 percent from $6.24 per $1,000 of equalized assessed valuation this year to $6.45 per $1,000. The owner of a $250,000 home would see his or her school taxes increase from $1,560 to $1,612.50. The district's total 2010-11 levy is expected to be $7,496,031, 3.74 percent ($270,244) more than the 2009-10 levy of $7,225,787, according to district figures.

Williams Bay district's reserve fund already took a hit at the end of this school year, to cover a pre-audit shortfall of about $333,000, Vorlop said. Unless the district does something to raise revenues or lower expenditures, the reserve fund will be depleted by early 2012, he said.

The budgeted deficit for 2010-11 is a result of a drop in district enrollment and an increase in salaries and benefits for teachers, Vorlop said. District enrollment is expected to fall from 533 to 523, he said. The district's teachers agreed to a 3.06 percent increase in pay and benefits for this year. Median salary and benefits for a Williams Bay teacher is about $80,000.

The two-year teachers' agreement has a contract reopener this year, Vorlop said. District and teachers representatives are expected to have a preliminary meeting in August, he said.

The district's reserve was created in 2003, when school district voters approved raising the district's revenue cap by $398,000.

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"At that time, we decided we would build a reserve and then draw down that reserve," Vorlop said. He said the district thought the reserve would be depleted by 2007, but an unanticipated increase in enrollments allowed the district to conserve its reserves three years longer than planned.

But now, the district is planning to go to the voters again on Sept. 14 and ask for another increase in the district's revenue cap. Voters will be asked to raise the cap by $498,000 for 2010-11, $498,000 for 2011-12 and by $890,000 for 2012-13 and thereafter.

Based on a property with an equalized valuation of $100,000, which would owe $645 in school taxes, the proposed revenue cap increases would raise school taxes on that property by $65.30 the first year, and by $65.30 the second year, Vorlop said. In the third year, it would increase school taxes on that property by $98.30. The proposed cap adjustments would raise school district revenues by a total of $1.886 million over three years, Vorlop said.

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