By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

The equalized property tax rate for the Burlington Area School District is projected to decrease for next year even if residents approve a $43.7 million referendum in Tuesday’s election.

“It was a double whammy of good news,” Superintendent Peter Smet said following Monday’s meeting during which the School Board certified two tax levies – one for if the referendum passes and one for if it fails.

Under both scenarios, however, the equalized property tax rate for the school portion of local tax bills is projected to decrease, Smet said.

He attributed the windfall to two factors: greater than anticipated state aid, which reduces the actual tax levy; and a significant jump in district property value mainly due to the closing of a City of Burlington tax incremental financing district this year. The latter creates a 35 percent property value boost for property within the city.

Smet said the gratuitous timing makes it possible for district voters to approve the facilities referendum and still realize a decrease in the school portion of their property tax bills next year.

He said districts throughout Wisconsin receive figures from the state regarding student enrollment, state aid and property value in October. Districts must then certify their tax levy by Nov. 1.

Using those figures, district officials calculated that if the referendum passes, the equalized tax rate needed to support the levy will decrease from this year’s level of $10.40 per $1,000 of equalized property value to $9. That’s a decrease of 13.5 percent.

If the referendum doesn’t pass, the tax rate savings will be significantly more – a drop of $2.24 to $8.16 per $1,000 of equalized value, or 21.6 percent.

Smet said those factors create an opportunity for residents to achieve tax savings while still attending to the long-term physical needs of the district through referendum approval.

He cautioned, however, that actual tax savings are determined by individual property assessments and any significant changes in an assessment relative to other properties in the district could reduce or eliminate the savings.

To read more about the scope and effect of the referendum see the Nov. 1 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.