UPDATED: Property Tax Hikes on November Ballot for School Referenda

MacIver News Service | October 28, 2014

[Madison, Wisc…] Along with the election of governor and attorney general next Tuesday, 23 school districts have 33 separate referenda asking for additional funding on the ballot, according to research by The Wheeler Report.

The 33 referenda total more than $525 million in new debt for the districts and just under $6 million in new recurring revenue authority.

Most referenda are for improvements to the schools like renovations, additions to existing schools, technology updates and, in some cases, construction of new school buildings.

The two largest requests come from the Hudson School District – located across the St. Croix River from Minnesota’s Twin Cities – and the Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District – located in the southern suburbs of Milwaukee.

Hudson has two referenda on the ballot. The first asks for $100 million in issued debt to build a new high school, remodel the existing high school and relocate the administrative offices. The second referendum asks for $6.6 million in issued debt to construct a new auditorium for the district.

If both measures pass, property taxes are expected to increase $169 a year on a typical $150,000 home.

The Oak Creek-Franklin District also has two referenda on the ballot. The first is requesting $59 million in issued debt to construct a new elementary school and a new secondary school. The district is also asking voters to approve $7.4 million in issued debt to construct a new auditorium.

If both measures pass in the Milwaukee suburb, property taxes are expected to increase $129 a year on a typical $150,000 home.

Even though nearly twice as many school districts requested extra funding in the spring, the referenda on November’s ballot total $110 million more than were requested during April’s election.

In addition to the 33 recurring referenda, 20 more school districts have placed over $163 million non-recurring revenue raisers on the ballot. These non-recurring referenda would increase taxes only for the years specified.

The top asks in the non-recurring category are $127.5 million for the Racine School District, broken up in $8.5 million chunks over the next 15 years, $4.9 million over the next five years for the Glendale-River Hills District and $4.8 million over the next four years for the Whitewater District.

The Racine School District revenue hike would be used to repair or rebuild existing schools, upgrade technology and improve safety and security systems. Property taxes will go down in Racine regardless of whether the referendum passes because of increased state aid over the next few years. The referendum would eat away slightly at the total savings, however, which would decrease savings of $68 on a $150,000 home to $58 if passed.

Glendale-River Hills School District claims the extra money is needed to maintain current operations. Owners of a $200,000 home in the area would see a $60 jump in their tax bill if the measure passes.

The Whitewater District wants to use additional funds for a variety of things such as maintaining elementary school sizes, increasing student support services, comprehensive instructional programs and co-curricular programs, as well as upgrading technology and buildings. The Whitewater measure would also not go into effect until the 2015-2016 school year. School related property taxes in the area will already go up by 2.24 percent because of the budget passed earlier this year.

The complete list for both recurring and non-recurring referenda on Tuesday’s ballot have been compiled by The Wheeler Report and is available by clicking here.