Hamilton School Board members adopted a budget and certified a tax levy Oct. 18 that attempted to cushion taxpayers from the impact caused by a difficult economy and strained state finances. While in the past the addition of 63 new students to the district would have meant substantially more state funding to offset the expense of educating them, state aid to the district this year only held steady.
The result is that the local levy – revenue generated through local property taxes – will pick up a greater share of costs. The total gross levy will increase 3.49 percent, from $29.83 million in 2009-10 to $30.87 million in 2010-11. The local levy will cover 55 percent of the district budget and state funding will contribute 41 percent with the remainder coming from federal aid and other local fees. This is a change because in the past 20 years, state aid typically supplied more than half of the district’s revenue.
The School Board approved a total budget of $50.19 million, which represents a 3.03 percent increase in spending. School officials anticipated this summer that the budget would increase by 2.79 percent, but that projection was based on an enrollment increase of only 30 new students.
Decreased property value had a further influence on the school tax rate. Property value in the district fell 2.54 percent, which is less than many Waukesha County communities and the state average, but contributed to a mill rate increase from $9.54 to $10.18 per $1,000 of property value.
The School Board took action previously to mitigate the impact on taxpayers including using $200,000 of interest earnings to buy down the tax rate, refinancing long-term debt which saved taxpayers $725,000 this year, and underspending the budget last year to reduce expenses.
Each October, the School Board must adopt the budget, certify the tax levy and establish the tax rate after the Department of Revenue determines property values in the district. Tax bills are sent to property owners in December.