Three Referenda Questions With No Tax Impact?

Three Referenda Questions With No Tax Impact?
Posted on 03/17/2021
Three Referenda Questions With No Tax Impact?

Three Referenda Questions With No Tax Impact?

By: Dr. James Gottinger, District Administrator, Lake Geneva Schools


The Lake Geneva Joint #1 School District and The Lake Geneva-Genoa City Union High School District (Badger) are asking the taxpayers to approve three referenda questions on April 6, 2021. Those questions are:

  1. Lake Geneva Joint #1 School District is asking to exceed the state imposed revenue limit by $750,000 a year on a recurring basis beginning in 2021-2022.

  2. The Lake Geneva-Genoa City Union High School District (Badger) is asking to exceed the revenue limit by $750,000 a year on a recurring basis beginning in 2021-2022.

  3. The Lake Geneva-Genoa City Union High School District (Badger) is asking to approve $6,000,000 for renovations, capital maintenance and upgrades to the 1958 facility.


The districts are in a positive economic situation in which all three of these questions can be passed with no tax rate increase for our citizens! It would only be natural to ask, How can you do that?” This article will explain how the tax rate remains flat and also the need for this financial assistance.


Our tax rate for the Lake Geneva Schools (Jt. #1 and Badger) was $9.68 per $1,000 of assessed valuation during the 2020-2021 school year. Because a sizable amount of debt has been retired by the Badger District this year, all three questions can be passed with that tax rate staying level. The drop in tax rate that would have occurred will, in essence, fund the cost of passing these three questions.


In a recent historical context, the combined tax rate of our two school districts has continued to decrease. During the 2015-2016 school year, the combined tax rate for Jt. #1 and Badger was $12.49 on $1,000 of assessed valuation. Once again, this year it was $9.68 on $1,000 of assessed valuation. That is a reduction in the tax rate for our schools of $2.81 in the past six years! That can be attributed to a general decline in enrollment which reduces your taxes as well as prudent budgeting and fiscal management of our schools by the Joint #1 and Badger Boards of Education.


We are also confident that our ability to exceed the revenue limit in each district by $750,000 will not increase your tax rate in the foreseeable future.  That confidence is substantiated by the fact that our enrollment projections and the continued retirement of debt in both the Joint #1 and Badger districts will offset any increase brought on by our ability to exceed the revenue limits. So, we are very confident that our taxpayers will see no tax rate increase by passing these three questions on April 6, 2021.


In explaining the need to exceed the revenue limit I will start with stating in a general sense that it is necessary to receive these funds to ensure we provide the quality education in the future that we have to this point and improve upon that educational program.


In the past ten years, we have seen a decline in revenue in the Joint #1 District of $3,176,000.  In the Badger District, that decline in revenue has been $1,700,000. We have made significant budget reductions in recent years. The Joint #1 School District cut $1.5 million dollars from their budget during the 2019-2020 school year. The Badger District cut $600,000 from this year’s budget.  Those budget reductions resulted in a reduction of twenty-three staff members in the districts. To continue to provide the staffing and to fund the programs that have seen Badger High School ranked as one of the country’s best high schools by U. S. News and World Report and all of our elementary schools receive the State of Wisconsin’s top, five-star rating as well as Star Center Elementary School being designated as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, we will need this extra financial support. If not, more staff reductions will have to take place and then programs will have to be adjusted for financial reasons.


Our reduced state aid and increased costs of running our schools that include, but are not limited to, heating, light, bus contracts, employee benefits, etc. are not congruent with our ability to continue to provide the same level of educational programming without additional revenue which can only come from our citizens through your approval in the referendum process.


In conclusion, the three referenda questions that will be on the ballot can be passed with no tax rate increase to our citizens. Increasing costs to run quality schools coupled with reduced revenues are the reasons we are seeking your vote at this time. I sincerely hope all of you will vote on April 6, 2021.
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