The Port Washington-Saukville School Board approved a balanced budget on Monday night that will have little or no impact on taxpayers' bills, despite cuts in state aid.
"Given all the changes over the past couple years, it made for a different budgeting situation," Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said. "It's an interesting budget."
The budget includes the first of 10 annual payments — this one of $197,532 — toward an energy savings project in the school buildings for the 2012-13 school year.
Other factors impacting the budget include a $179,253 decrease in state aid, plus changes in the per-pupil allotment as well as the fact that the district was able to fully pay off referendum debt in the last school year, he said.
"Overall, the state is taking less of a stake in local school districts and asking the local taxpayers for more of a stake in it to be able to maintain school programs," Froemming said.
The district is getting about 44 percent of its funding from state sources, and 48 percent from local taxes in this year's budget. That's different from last year, when state sources provided 49 percent of the budget, with local taxes paying 47 percent.
Here's where this year's budget gets even stickier: property values are down throughout Ozaukee County, meaning the School Board's tax rate has to increase merely to make up that difference. The rate is increasing by 3.6 percent to $9.71 per $1,000 of property value — but people will not see that increase exactly reflected in their tax bills, Froemming said.
"The mill rate increase does not paint a correct picture for what's happening with people's tax bills," he said.
A homeowner with property worth $175,000 in 2011 would have paid $1,639.75 for their tax bill; with the property still valued at $175,000 in 2012, the tax bill would increase by about $60 to $1,699.25, Froemming said. But, with the values decreased that $175,000 home is now worth $169,400, meaning that same homeowner's tax bill is $1,645.55 — and increase of just less than $6.
Superintendent Michael Weber said the budget is a good example of a board being conservative with its spending while still working creatively to set the district up for a positive future.