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Residents OK Nicolet levy

Cuts made did not offset cost increases

Aug. 25, 2009

Nicolet — A sparse group of residents adopted a $16,894,389 tax levy for the Nicolet School District at the annual meeting Monday night after a report from Business Manager Jeff Dellutri explained the process used to develop the 2009-2010 budget.

The levy is up 3.32 percent from the previous levy of $16,350,929. The budget of $24,561,371 is up 2.71 percent from last year's budget of $23,895,178. The levy would result in an 11 cent increase in the equalized tax rate to $3.97 per $1,000 of equalized value.

Dellutri said the assessed tax rate, which is the rate paid by residents, will not be available until later in the fall when the valuations of the four communities making up the district are known.

During the course of preparing the budget, the School Board was forced to reduce staff, but even with a reduction of 12.8 full time equivalent positions, cuts in the facilities and operating budgets, the board found itself facing higher costs in other areas that negated some of the reductions.

"Seventy-eight percent of the budget is salary and benefits," Dellutri said.

The 2009-2010 salary package is based on a 3.8 percent increase in salary and benefit packages. In addition, the budget includes a 0.6 percent increases due to changes in the teacher schedule lane, upward movements in the pay schedule that occurs when a teacher earns more college credits.

The district is also including a $600,000 payment to fully fund the annual required contribution for post-retirement benefits for staff. Contributions to the Wisconsin Retirement System also went from 10.4 to 11 percent because of the decline in value of the system's holdings due to the recession.

Resident Dan Hess had several questions, the per pupil cost for the district and plans for $1,513,000 of stimulus money the district is eligible to borrow at zero percent interest.

The per pupil cost is $14,000, Dellutri said. Definitive plans for the stimulus money have not been made but they are for building projects and will likely include a green or energy component. The consolidation of the school's two libraries is a likely candidate for some of the funding, he said.

In addition to adopting the levy, the 10 or so residents plus the five School Board members voted to maintain board salaries at $1,000 annually and to pay for "actual and necessary travel expenses" incurred as a result of being on the School Board.

The budget and levy can and will likely be adjusted in October after the third-Friday (in September) final enrollment and final staffing numbers are known.

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