SALEM LAKES — Trevor-Wilmot Consolidated School District electors will be asked via referendum on the April 5 spring election ballot to allow the district to exceed its state-set revenue limit by $800,000 per year for five years.
The Board of Education approved the required resolutions at its meeting Tuesday.
“We have long maintained a quality school system by using all available tools and resources to sustain programming,” District Administrator Michelle Garven, said. “The referendum is also a tool that the state’s legislators have given schools to ask taxpayers to exceed the revenue limit to save programs. That’s exactly what we are doing.”
In Wisconsin, the revenue limit is the amount of revenue the district receives in local property taxes and state aid, Director of Business Services Bryan Kadlec explained. The district has struggled with budget deficits for several years due to declining revenue and increasing expenses, Kadlec said. The district has used its fund balance to make up the shortfalls, which Kadlec said is “no longer sustainable.”
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Without additional revenue, Garven said the district cannot maintain its current level of programming and services.
A similar request in April 2021 failed by 12 votes. It would have allowed the district to exceed its revenue limit by varying amounts over a five-year period.
“The problems have certainly not gone away and we cannot remain status quo,” Garven said. “We are committed to asking the voters again because we heard from citizens that they either didn’t know about the last referendum or didn’t understand the urgency of our request.”
Under the current referendum proposal, the district would be allowed to exceed its revenue limit by $800,000 annually beginning in the 2022-23 school year. It is a non-recurring referendum, which means the authorization would expire after five years. The initial tax increase is estimated to be 15 cents per $1000 or property value. This equates to a $15 tax increase on a $100,000 property and a $30 increase on a $200,000 property, annually.
Kadlec said Trevor-Wilmot has taken steps to address budget shortfalls, including: reducing the number of support staff; reducing the number of teaching and administrative positions; and increasing class sizes. The district has also sought to control costs by keeping expenses at or below the consumer price index for each of the last 10 years, he said.
“Historically, we have been very conservative with taxpayer dollars and mindful of the community,” Kadlec said. “An approved referendum doesn’t mean clear sailing. An approved referendum will help us avoid budget deficits and sustain programs while we continue to control expenses to maintain the educational programs for students.”
If the current proposal does not pass, Garven said the district will have no choice but to make further reductions to balance the budget. Those cuts could include increasing class sizes; reducing class offerings; deferring maintenance and repairs, and reducing technology replacement cycles.
District officials plan to host two public information meetings (in-person, if possible) at 6 p.m. in the school library on Feb. 24 and March 29.
For more information, call Garven at (262) 862-2356 or visit the district website.