Superintendent's Message - October 21, 2019

Tax Levy and Other Fiscal News for N-O-W Constituents
Posted on 10/21/2019
Dr. Kelly Burhop

The school district’s financial information was presented last week in a grid published in The County Line.  State imposed revenue limits on public school districts consist of a school district’s state aid and the local property tax levy.  The revenue limit is driven by the student enrollment count in September of each year.  The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District has been experiencing declining enrollment over the past five years.  This is leading to less money for the school district to operate.  During the 2019-20 school year under the state imposed revenue limit, the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District will be operating with $212,417 less than the District had in 2018-19. 

The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District did receive an increase in state aid this year, mainly due to the decrease in property valuations last year.  The District received an increase in General Aid of $120,262.  There were other minor changes in three other state aids and the referendum levy.  The 2019-20 proposed tax levy is $1,350,668 for operations and $432,827 for a referendum debt payment for a total tax levy of $1,783,495.  This is a $322,504 (15.3%) property tax cut for last year.  The 2019-20 mill rate of $8.66 is a decrease of $1.88 (17.8%) from last year.  School district property valuations increased by $6,112,978, or 3.1%.  This significantly impacted the decrease in the mill rate.  I was able to research the history of the mill rate back to 1984 for the Norwalk-Ontario and the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District.  The $8.66 mill rate is the lowest mill rate the district has ever had during that time.  Changes on your own personal property tax bill will vary depending on your local municipality’s property valuation changes.      

As the District Administrator, I will be proposing a budget with a $40,000 deficit to the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton Board of Education and electorate at the Annual Meeting and Budget Hearing.  The deficit is mainly due to the football field lights and the Falcon Mall Floor installation, both installed this past summer.  The total operational budget of $10,816,752 is pretty close to the operational budget the school district had in 2017-18.  Along with a decrease in the school district’s revenue limit, other state aids the district has received in the past have declined as well, including Sparsity Aid and High Cost Transportation Aid.  There are increases in revenues for per pupil categorical aid along with a small increase in federal Title Funding.  The main expenditure cuts are due to changes in school district staffing, a decrease in special education costs, a change in the group health insurance carrier, and small decreases in operational costs like paper, postage, supplies, and transportation.  The main expenditure additions cover employee salaries and costs associated with the football field lights and the Falcon Mall floor.

Looking ahead, I think it is safe to assume that for the 2020-21 school year, there will be a property tax increase.  I am anticipating a decrease in General Aid due to declining enrollment and an increase in property values.  I am also anticipating the decrease in General Aid will surpass the decrease in district allocated funding through the state imposed revenue limit.

If you have any questions about the finances of the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District or have any other school-related topics you would like to discuss, stop in and see me in my office here at the school building, contact me here at (608) 337-4403, e-mail me at kburhop@now.k12.wi.us,  or attend the Annual Meeting and Budget Hearing at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 28, in the Large Conference Room in the High School Office Area.