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Decline in state aid could mean higher school taxes

July 14, 2009

A $2.29 million drop in state aid to the Wauwatosa School District could mean a higher-than-expected property tax hike for residents, an official said.

Wauwatosa's state aid for 2009-10 is expected to drop to $18.43 million from this year's $20.72 million, an 11.1 percent decrease, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.

John Mack, district director of business services, said seesaw-like revenue formulas stipulate that property taxes rise to make up for lost aid.

Mack said he didn't have specifics about how the aid decline will affect district taxpayers, but said he's "quite confident" the district's aid reduction will be less than 11 percent.

During a June budget presentation, Mack said he expected property tax rates to increase between 5 and 8 percent. Earlier this week, Mack said the 8.6 percent increase he included in the June budget draft is more likely, but still not definite.

That increase would bring the property tax levy to $43.4 million in 2009-10, a $3.4 million increase over this year. The property tax rate would increase to $8.09 per $1,000 of equalized property value, a hike of 64 cents per $1,000.

A final version of the budget with an accurate tax rate will go before School Board members in late October, Mack said.

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