Menomonee Falls residents approve smaller levy

Published on: 9/11/2012

Menomonee Falls - Residents of the Menomonee Falls School District can expect a lower tax bill as the levy - which includes a 0.4 percent decrease - was approved at the annual meeting Monday night.

About 25 residents unanimously approved the total levy of $38,282,890 for the 2012-13 school year. Despite a projected 15 percent decrease in state aid for the 2012-13 school year, the tax rate will be decreased $0.05 per $1,000 of property value. The rate will be $11.42 per $1,000. Last year the rate was $11.47.

A property owner with a home that has an equalized value of $200,000 would see a reduction of $9.17 from last year. The property owner would pay $2,285.52 in a school tax, Business Manager Jeff Gross said during the public budget hearing before the annual meeting Monday.

This is the second year in a row the levy was lowered in the Menomonee Falls School District. For the 2011-12 school year, it was lowered by 1.96 percent. The school tax is down $57 in the last two years combined for someone with a $200,000 home.

'With a decrease in state funding, we've been able to better manage that levy and still show a decrease to the total levy and the total levy rate over the last couple of years,' Gross said.

Over the last five years, state funding has dropped $7.5 million in Menomonee Falls. At the same time, the local share of funding increased $6.5 million starting in 2007-08, meaning the total revenue is still down $1.5 million.

Total expenditures in the district are down 1 percent. Over the last five years, expenditures have dropped about $1 million. For 2012-13, expenditures sit at $47.9 million. In 2007-08, district expenditures were $48.9 million.

'We have a fairly stable expenditure budget,' Gross said.

When the expenditures are broken down by program, the district spends 52 percent on instruction.

'This is where we should be spending our dollars. There are districts that struggle to keep that above 50 percent,' Gross said. 'We're doing a real solid job at keeping our dollars in instruction. We try to be as efficient as possible in the support services area and keep that at a minimal percent so the instruction can get the bulk of the dollars.'

The transition to a self-funded insurance plan and reducing things such as energy and transportation costs helped the district come to a balanced budget and lower levy.

'We reduced health care costs, reduced the tax levy and our bond rating is strong,' Superintendent Patricia Greco said. 'We have a great deal to celebrate this year.'

Through the implementation of energy saving measures, she said the district saved $600,000 last year.

'This year we knew state aid, we projected energy costs, limited staff salary assumptions and reduced post-retirement benefits, which all happened in November and December of the last calendar year in preparation for tonight,' Greco said. 'We reduced our budget by 1 percent and the mill (tax) rate is reduced by approximately 0.5 percent despite a significant loss in aid.'

The Department of Public Instruction estimated Falls will receive $8,292,236, a 15.14 percent decrease in general aid for the 2012-2013 school year. State aid numbers are finalized in October.