The Wauwatosa School District would increase its share of the property tax levy by 4.43 percent under the proposed 2012-2013 budget.
The budget plan will be presented Monday night to the School Board, which meets at 7 p.m. in the lower level boardroom at the Fisher Building, 12121 W. North Ave.
The total tax levy for next year would be $44,584,971, up from $42,692,217 for the current school year.
The total tax rate would be $8.908 per $1,000 valuation, resulting in a school tax levy of $2,227 on a $250,000 home. That's in increase of $94 over the levy on the same home in 2011-2012, when the tax bill was $2,133.
Total revenues for the coming year would be $78,907,835 under the proposed budget, up 1.14% from a year ago, but expenditures will actually fall by 1.5 percent.
Compensation costs – by far the largest share of the budget – will rise, particularly in benefits.
While salary costs are expected to increase by only about 0.5 percent next year because of a salary freeze agreed to by teachers and staff, benefits costs are expected to rise 6.5 percent.
Meanwhile, revenue from federal, state and local sources other than property tax levies could fall by nearly $1 million, with the lion's share, $900,000, expected to be a reduction in state aid.
For those who thought the state budget adopted last year precluded property tax increases by local governments, what is true for the City of Wauwatosa is not the same for its schools.
District Business Services Director John Mack said that levy increases within the state-imposed revenue cap are allowed for a number of factors – all of which, he said, are controlled by the state.
"If equalization aid goes down, then we are allowed to increase the levy," he said.
There is a provision for a $50 per pupil increase, Mack said, and other factors, such as decreased enrollment through Chapter 220, also allow for levy increases.
Mack said that the proposed tax levy was based on "an educated guess" as to where the state will go with equalization aid this year.
"It could be lower, it could be higher," Mack said. The actual figures from the state will not be available for awhile, but the School District needs to adopt a budget next month regardless. Adjustments can be made in the fall when final state figures on aid are in.
The property tax levy portion of the School District's budget and state-generated resources were briefly equal at about 47 percent in 2002, and since then the state's portion has fallen to an expected 29.88 percent, with the local tax levy climbing to 55.75 percent.
Historically, property taxes for schools have been much higher, reaching a peak, in inflation adjusted dollars, of $54.9 million, when they accounted for 75 percent of the annual budget.