For the seventh consecutive budget cycle, state funding for the Menomonee Falls School District will fall. However, property taxes will drop for the second consecutive year despite the loss in state aid.
Typically, when a school district loses state or federal aid, the gap in funding is made up with an increased tax levy. Not in Menomonee Falls.
“Most levies are increasing in this upcoming year around the state based on what happened last year, but we were able to manage the levy and keep it down for another year,” said Director of Business Services Jeffrey Gross.
Despite a significant cut in both state and federal aid, MFSD leaders managed to reduce the overall tax levy from last year by roughly $200,000 to $38.2 million. As a result, the equalized tax rate will fall 0.4 percent from $11.47 to $11.42 per $1,000 of assessed value.
State funding will again drop by the maximum allowed, which is 15 percent of the prior year’s funding. Funding from the state will drop from $10.3 million to $8.8 million. For comparison, during the 2006-07 school year the district received $17.5 million from the state. From that budget year on, aid was slashed on an annual basis.
The district accomplished a levy decrease by paying down long-term debt, increasing energy efficiency, and transitioning to a self-funded insurance system. The district reduced its medical and dental costs for district employees by roughly $400,000 as compared to last year. The district also trimmed spending by 2 percent.
Gross also shifted several facilities and utilities expenses out of the instructional budget to the recreation department budget. The shift isolated certain recreational activity costs to the proper fund, and freed up more funds on the instructional side.
The district also utilized the remaining federal Jobs Act funding to preserve class size and programs.
In the face of reduced funding, the district still deployed an up to $800,000 project to improve the technological infrastructure of the district. It also implemented a new laptop program fro incoming freshman.
The preliminary budget continues to evolve as more information comes in for financial planners. Menomonee Falls residents will have the opportunity to vote and approve the school district tax levy at the annual meeting. The School Board could also approve the preliminary budget on Aug. 13 at its regular meeting.