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School Tax Levy Drops for Second Straight Year

This year's $32.7 million tax levy is down 1.17 percent from the previous year, and while the tax rate is up, residents will likely see a lower bill in December.

Homeowners should see a slight drop in their property tax bills as the Muskego-Norway School School Board Monday night approved a $32.7 million levy that's down 1.2 percent from last year.

The 2012-13 levy is also 2.4 percent less than two years ago.

The recent announcement that state aid to the district would be more than originally budgeted helped the district in keeping costs down and maintaining a strong fund balance.

Although the district's property tax rate is expected to rise from $10.74 to $11.01 per $1,000 assessed value, taxes on an average home in Muskego valued at $291,300 are expected to drop by $46 from last year, and about $213 less from the peak in 2004.

The levy was approved at the district's annual meeting at Muskego High School that was attended by about 30 residents.

During the public hearing, one resident asked how the district will respond to a recent ruling by a judge that Act 10, which limits collective bargaining rights for public employees, is unconstitutional. The district has saved about $2 million in insurance costs since the law took effect.

Scot Ecker, director of business services, responded: "We are taking the same strategy that we did when we were planning before Act 10 legislation, and that is to wait and see what will happen. Our legal counsel has also advised us that this is the best route to go."

Some of the highlights of the district's annual report included:

  • Student achievement: Superintendent Kelly Thompson said involvement in advanced placement courses was up, with 325 students at the high school taking AP courses, and 511 AP tests taken.
  • 91 percent of high school students have a recorded post-secondary plan.
  • Emphasis on personalized learning: the number of students involved in a non-traditional learning plan has doubled to approximately 500.
  • Net operating expenses for the district are $60.8 million, or a decrease of 1.06 percent from last year
  • The district will apply $948,171 of fund balance to facilities maintenance and $889,000 to debt payment and tax relief.
  • MNSD will spend 58 percent on instruction (5 percent higher than the 53 percent state average), and 9 percent on its facilities (7 percent lower)
  • Residents approved a 3 percent increase of board members salaries based on a recommendation from Julie Panish of Wind Lake. Board members currently make $4,073, and the president makes $4,413 per year. The increase would result in an additional $865 for the year.
Rick Petfalski October 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Just a clarification... The equalized tax rate is expected to rise, not the assessed tax rate. Because the district covers multiple municipalities, the tax rate used is based on equalized values, not assed values. The only way your school portion of your tax bill will increase is if the value of your home increased at a much higher percentage than other homes in your community, or inversely decreased at a much lower percentage than the rest of your community. The average property tax payer will experience a school property tax savings.
Denise Konkol (Editor) October 30, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Thanks for the clarification Rick. You may want to explain equalized - in terms we can all get.
Rick Petfalski November 01, 2012 at 12:20 AM
The tax rate should not have been part of the story because it was mis-stated and will confuse people. Simply stating the school district is taxing less than it did in total last year, so your taxes should go down, unless you did something to increase the value of your property like an addition or re-model. To attempt to answer your question: Equalized Value is closer to fair market value. Assessment is merely what the local government said your value was in a point in time. So if your community has not done a re-evaluation in a number of years your home may be assessed at a much higher or lower value than what the market value is. Clear as mud?

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