Preliminary school tax levy approved

By Janet Murphy

During the Annual Budget Hearing held Monday evening, Chilton School District Business Manager Samantha Woelfel provided an overview of the district’s preliminary budget for the 2021-’22 school year for faculty, staff and community members in attendance.

She explained that key components in developing the budget were Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, state budget factors and student counts. 

Woelfel said the budget includes $350,000 for ESSER expenditures which address Learning Loss with two interventionists and two half-time teachers, mitigation and prevention with additional maintenance staff, and virtual learning with updates to infrastructure and Rural Virtual Academy. 

Woelfel noted the state budget had no increase in funds for the district and said the revenue limit—or the district’s maximum amount of revenue that can be obtained through state aid and property tax dollars—is $11,051,253 for the 2021-’22 school year, a decrease of $17,092 from last year. Woelfel said the district has an enrollment of 1,040 based on a three-year rolling average, which is a decrease of 23 students from last year. 

Woelfel explained that the revenue limit consists of equalization aid, which is estimated at $7.7 million for the 2021-’22 school year, and tax aid. She said there was a decrease in revenue this year of approximately $850,000, but an increase in expenditures of $471,000, resulting in a deficit, but there was also a shift of the financial burden from the taxpayers onto state aid. 

Woelfel said the levy for this school year is estimated to be $4.9 million, which is $1.5 million less than last year, based on a 0.28 percent increase in equalized property value and a 9.2 percent increase in equalized aid. The gross tax levy rate is estimated at $8.05, which is 24 percent less than the $10.63 mill rate for the 2020-’21 school year. She pointed out that some adjustments to the budget may occur in the next few weeks as pupil counts, final state aid amounts and equalized property valuations are certified in October, and final board approval will occur at the next meeting on Oct. 25. 

During the School District annual meeting held directly following the budget hearing, Resolution A was approved to set a tax of $2,915,420 to be levied for the 2021-’22 school year for the purpose of the operation of the schools of the Chilton School District. Resolution B was approved to levy a tax of $1,803,164 for the purpose of paying all current bonded indebtedness for capital expenditures for the 2021-’22 school year. Resolution C was also approved which provided for a tax of $206,000 to be levied for the 2021-’22 school year for the purpose of financing community use of school facilities, providing residents with a newsletter, and for middle school athletic and school police liaison programs. 

Additional resolutions were approved to establish salaries for School Board members at $1,000 per year, and to provide reimbursement of expenses for School Board members. District members also approved resolutions that authorized the School Board to do the following: retain legal counsel; purchase, operate and maintain vehicles, purchase liability insurance for vehicles and finance contracts for the use and services of vehicles; furnish a school nutrition program; furnish textbooks; and make temporary loans for current operations according to statutory requirements.

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