Wauzeka-Steuben School District sets spring referendum

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Interim Superintendent Dave Alexander

By Correne Martin

 

The Wauzeka-Steuben School District has approved a referendum to be part of the spring 2020 general election in the district. Voters will have opportunities to become informed about the three-year, non-recurring operational referendum in the months leading up to choosing yes or no on the ballot.

At the Jan. 13 regular school board meeting, the board formalized two resolutions allowing the referendum and including state-approved verbiage for the referendum, as it will appear for constituent consideration on April 7.

In essence, the school district will ask electors to exceed the revenue limit by $240,000 for the 2020-2021 school year, by $316,000 for the 2021-2022 school year, and by $398,000 for the 2022-2023 school year. 

According to new Interim District Administrator Dave Alexander, “approval would allow the board, in future budget planning, the authority to raise taxes up to those amounts.”

He explained, “What the board is trying to do is drive back the tax rate to $12.71 per thousand that we tax, which is where the mill rate was for the 2018-2019 school year.” 

For the current year, the mill rate went down to $11.68. 

In the Courier Press’ November report about the district’s annual meeting, it was stated that, for the next three years, if all operating remained the same, the rate would take a downward trend. This is because Wauzeka-Steuben plans payoff of two loans (one this past September and a second in February). With no new debt, mill rates would be estimated around $10.86, $10.51 and $9.01 for the coming three school years, according to district business manager Jeff Mara. 

The proposed referendum would be based on the intent to put the school tax rate back at that $12.71, Alexander said. 

With the Jan. 13 board approval, school district administration can now move ahead with informing and educating the public about the referendum. 

“We encourage the people in our communities to get out, become educated and express their voice in April,” Alexander stated. “I’m making it a point to attend village and town board meetings to introduce myself, educate these representatives and answer any questions.”

He noted that the school intends to host one or two more public information meetings in February and/or March. More details will be available as those dates are scheduled.  He also said the district’s website, https://www.wauzeka.k12.wi.us, will be updated with frequently asked questions and factual information, where citizens can go to understand the referendum.

“It’s certainly not going to be unanimous,” Alexander admitted, “but I’m encouraged by what I’m hearing.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, four other rural school districts in southwest Wisconsin are anticipating referendums during the spring election: Cassville and Viroqua, operational referendums; and Southwestern and River Ridge, with issue debt referendums for athletic fields. 

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