Preliminary budget passes, but not without changes

Germantown School Board set on not raising taxes

June 12, 2012

Germantown - The Germantown School Board is adamant about not raising taxes. Because of that, however, the district administration is forced to plan for $533,000 in cuts or dip into savings to make up for losses now detailed in the preliminary budget that was approved Monday night.

The tax levy, state aid and enrollment numbers that make up the budget will not all fall into place until October when state aid officially becomes available. The maximum in state aid the district could lose is 15 percent: therefore, the preliminary budget was planned based on those projections. That number could be as low as zero percent come October.

"These projections could be too high, they could be too low," Superintendent Sue Borden said.

Based on 15 percent aid reductions, the preliminary budget laid out a 1.75 tax levy increase, which is the maximum increase under the state imposed revenue limits. This increase is not definite and any levy change has to be approved in fall. The preliminary budget is necessary so the district can be in line with the new fiscal year that begins July 1 and start paying large expenditures such as payroll.

Although real numbers won't be in until October, the School Board did not agree with including language in the preliminary budget that includes a tax increase.

The board voted, 5-2, Monday, with Lester Spies and Bruce Warnimont opposed, to take the levy increase out of the preliminary budget. In doing so, the preliminary budget was approved with a structural deficit in the amount of approximately $533,000 that the administration will have to fill in elsewhere.

School Board President Bob Soderberg said based on a community survey, the community does not want a tax increase. He was adamantly opposed to including a tax increase in the preliminary budget, despite the document being fluid in nature.

Soderberg said the board does not want a tax increase and it is "the burden of the administration" to make up for the $533,000 in the preliminary budget.

Should state aid be cut by the maximum amount of 15 percent, without a tax levy increase, that amount would have to be found elsewhere in the budget in order for it to be balanced come October.

All of the budget's numbers are subject to change. The Department of Public Instruction will release their initial calculations of aid by July 1.

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