SDR budget approved; slight decrease in mill rate
By Eileen Persike
RHINELANDER – The School District of Rhinelander board of education passed the 2023-24 budget last week at the district’s annual meeting. The approved budget is $36,114,560. The presentation included what’s become an ongoing discussion of the discrepancy between the state revenue limit and the money needed to fund the district.
The revenue limit is the maximum amount that may be raised through state general aid and property tax for the general fund, debt service fund and the capital projects fund.
For 2023-24, the revenue limit for SDR is $29,979,596. That is a little over a million dollar increase over last year. Director of Business Services Robert Thom told the board the increase is nice, but.
“If you go all the way back to 2010-11, you’ll see it was $28,695,570 … so we’ve increased a million dollars the last 12-13 years,” Thom said. “When you look at what happened to us last year, the cost of utilities and snowplowing and things like that, you can see that the revenue cap is not keeping up with what costs are. We’ve been doing fine because we’ve been passing referendums to exceed the cap but this past year got pretty tight to the point where this revenue limit plus the referendum is just not quite keeping up with expenses.”
Snowplowing alone, he said, cost $100,000 more than the year before.
“Not to set off any huge alarms, but it’s going to be a tight budget this year just because of the programs we have, the costs of things, the COVID inflation has been crazy,” said Thom. “Just something to keep in mind.”
In 2022-23, 68% of the SDR budget came from property taxes and 31% came from state aid. Thom said it was “a really big year” for state aid as it jumped up from 17% in 2021-22 to 31%.
“It reduces our property taxes – doesn’t give us any more money to spend, it just reduces property taxes,” Thom said “Kind of figured it would reverse itself, which it did. They can only take away 15% of our state aid each year, so that’s what they’re doing.”
This year, 74% will be from property taxes and 26% state aid. Thom noted that even with 26% the district is “in a good spot.” Excluding last year, 26% is a larger percentage of state aid than SDR received since 2008.
The bottom line for property owners in the district is a slight decrease in the tax rate paid to the district. The mill rate last year was $7.34 per $1,000 of property value; this year, $7.30 – a decrease in the tax rate of 4 cents per $1,000.
Property values in the Rhinelander School District increased 14.88% compared to the statewide increase of 12.81%.