Letter: Northwoods citizens can help reduce property taxes by Brian Diel
Rhinelander, Tomahawk and many other Northwoods school districts need your help. Over the past 20 years, the State of Wisconsin general state aid formula for school districts has morphed into a formula that no longer distributes state school aid on a uniform basis.
The formula is causing [PROPERTY TAX RATES??] for many northern school districts to rely primarily on property taxes. This imbalance is actually violating one of the two provisions in our state constitution (Article X section 3) which states one of the primary goals of general state aid funding is to “reduce the reliance upon the local property tax as a source of revenue for public education.”
Here are a few examples that point out the wide discrepancies and problems created by the current malfunctioning school aid formula. Figures are from the 2012/2013 school year as provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
School district State aid (millions) Property tax value Total student count:
- Rhinelander $ 1.2 $2.4 billion 2,534
- Whitefish Bay $ 7.9 $1.9 billion 2,691
- Wisconsin Rapids $32.8 $2.1 billion 5,282
- Tomahawk $ .5 $1.4 billion 1,325
- Hartland-Lakeside $ 3.4 $1.4 billion 1,271
These glaring discrepancies are just a few out there, but they clearly illustrate that the current school funding program needs to be reworked to meet the requirements of our state constitution.
If you would like to help fix this problem for the Northwoods and other school districts, please take a few minutes of your time and send an email with your concerns to the state budget and finance committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org by May 1, 2013.
All emails received will be recorded and presented to the committee as they listen to citizen input before voting on the final state budget for the next two (2) years.
Contacting our local politicians will also help. Senator Tom Tiffany at: Sen.Tiffany@legis.wi.gov, Representative Rob Swearingen at: Rep.Swearingen@legis.wi.gov and Representative Mary Czaja at: Rep.Czaja@legis.wi.gov.
Brian Diel, Rhinelander