Glendale — Nicolet will have balanced books in the coming school year, but district taxpayers will also have to foot a bigger bill.
Business Manager Jeff Dellutri, in a preliminary budget presentation to the School Board last week, showed a projected 3 percent increase in the district tax levy. For Nicolet residents with a $300,000 home, that equates to a $43 increase in the district tax bill.
In their 2013-15 biennial budget, legislators approved a $75 per student increase in the state-mandated spending limit. At the same time, Nicolet's state aid is projected to decrease by about 10 percent. The tax increase, said Dellutri, is the result of the district making up for lost state aid, and the beginning of debt repayment on capital projects including a stormwater overhaul, energy efficiency work, and remodeling of the special education wing.
"Whatever you lose in aid you gain in property taxes," said Dellutri.
Taxes will continue to increase over the next few years to fund ongoing energy savings projects, said Dellutri.
In 2011, taxpayers passed a five-year, $2.1 million referendum to supplement the district budget. Dellutri said the tax increases over the next five years are, in part, meant to acclimate taxpayers to a higher tax rate so the district can bring an increased referendum — Dellutri estimated about $2.6 million — to voters to keep the district tax rate flat.
"When we get to the next referendum, with the way we've set this up, it should be a flat tax levy going out," said Dellutri.
Board member Ellen Redeker, as she has in previous meetings, took issue with the idea of increasing taxes and relying on a larger referendum than what was passed in 2011.
"Isn't that alarming?" said Redeker. "We're going to go back to (taxpayers) and say, we couldn't live within what you gave us."
Dellutri responded by saying that the district has lived within its means, but has faced unavoidable costs like the stormwater project and special ed remodeling. He said he'll do what he can to reduce the dollar amount of the upcoming referendum.
"We're going to try to bring that number down," said Dellutri. "We have three years to go and try to tighten things."
BY THE NUMBERS
projected increase in district tax levy
tax rate, per $1,000 of assessed home value
estimated referendum Nicolet will bring before voters in three years
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