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NG opts to keep tax rate, pay off debt
NEW GLARUS - When the New Glarus school district prepared its 2013-14 budget, total debt expenditures were calculated to be down 84.4 percent, from $5.2 million to $806,000. But that will change.

Voters went for a zero percent change from last year in the tax levy for the school district at its annual meeting Monday, Aug. 26, turning down a chance to reduce their tax rate - for the opportunity to allow the district to pay off more debt earlier, according to Jennifer Thayer, the district's new administrator.

The district's total indebtedness was about $8.9 million at the end of last school year.

Based on the equalized property values of last year, taxpayers can expect to see, once again, a district school tax rate of $11.63 per $1,000 of property value. That means property owners will pay about $1,745 in school taxes on a $150,000 home or $2,908 on a $250,000 house.

Voters had three options for the tax levy. The chosen option brings the tax levy to $4.55 million.

A $4.34 million levy would have resulted in a tax rate of $11.10 per $1,000. A $4.44 million levy would have brought a tax rate of $11.37 per $1,000.

According to information presented at the annual meeting, the chosen option will pay off debt earlier; produce a savings in interest costs of $40,000; and increase state aid for the 2014-15 school year, all while improving the district's debt capacity and increasing flexibility for funding its future capital needs.

Anticipating the lowest levy amount, the district office had prepared its budget with $12.34 million for total expenses, a decrease of $4.34 million from $16.61 million last year, or about 26 percent.

Nearly $4 million of that decrease was in reducing capital projects debt, which was set at just $82,000 for 2013-14. Other debt services were set at $724,000, down $372,000 from $1.1 million last year.

In the general fund, instructional (curriculum) funding is up $183,500 or 3.86 percent, support services is down $222,500 or 5.9 percent, and non-program transactions (includes general tuitions, open enrollments and transfers to other accounts) is up 1,45 percent, or $14,800.

All totaled the general fund account is down 0.25 percent, from $9.57 million to $9.55 million.

Special education and projects funding is up 4.99 percent, from $1.45 million to $1.52 million.

Food service is up $19,000, or 4.4 percent. New Glarus' Community Service funds are always budgeted at $11,000, equal to its funding sources.

Budget reductions included $60,000 in facility projects, $71,000 in instructional services, $26,000 in general tuition, and $15,000 in maintenance. The district also forewent $5,000 in classroom furniture, $2,500 for the school board, and $1,000 in the district administrator's office.

New Glarus is the first school district in Green County to hold its annual meeting this year.