The Verona Area School District is staying true to its word for another year – at least preliminarily.
An early version of the 2019-20 budget has the tax rate remaining at $12.77 per $1,000 of equalized property value. That’s the same rate as the past two years and what the district predicted publicly during the 2017 referendum process in which voters approved building a new high school and athletic facilities.
The board will vote on the preliminary budget at its next meeting, which was moved from Monday, June 17, to Tuesday, June 18.
District business manager consultant Chris Murphy explained Monday that while the rate would be constant, it is based on an equalized value. That means it could be vary from municipality to municipality and could also change depending on when a property is assessed.
“We have seven different municipalities in our school district,” Murphy said. “Some municipalities reassess every year … others don’t do it as often.”
Another caveat surrounds the unsettled state biennial budget.
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat elected last November, proposed a significantly larger increase in education funding than the Republican-led legislature seems likely to approve, leaving state aid unknown until that budget passes.
Murphy told the board Monday district officials were starting from a base of a $200 per pupil aid increase in year one and $204 in year two, which is what the Republican legislative leaders have proposed.
“We’re hoping that’ll be higher,” Murphy said. “We’ll see how that plays out.”
While the state budget has a June 30 deadline, officials ran late during the last budget process. School districts are required to approve their preliminary budgets by July 1, and the final budget is approved later in the fall after enrollment counts are official and the tax base in the district is certified. That also comes after the annual meeting of electors, held in VASD each August.
“Meanwhile, we need to keep on paying bills and paying our staff,” Murphy said.
If the district’s predictions continue to be accurate, the rate will jump for 2020-21 to $13.35 as the operating referendum goes into effect when the new high school opens.
That was a separate question on the 2017 ballot from the two related to construction, and it will remain on a permanent basis. The result allows the district to go 58 cents over what would otherwise be allowed under state revenue caps.