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State sends Greendale schools an unexpected $1.6M

Levy, tax rate will decrease in response

Nov. 28, 2012

Greendale - While most school districts in Wisconsin saw a decrease in state aid for the 2012-13, the Greendale School District is getting $1.6 million more than last year, thanks to steady enrollment, strong property values in the village and flat spending by the district.

The $11.4 million from the state, along with changes in health care insurance and other cost-saving measures, means the district will collect $14.8 million from its taxpayers in December, down $1.18 million from last year's $16 million levy. Those dollars will help support their $33 million budget.

Greendale property owners will pay $12.03 per $1,000 of equalized value, down from last year's $12.64 per $1,000 of equalized value.

Projections last month showed a slight increase in the levy and tax rate. The higher-than-expected state aid have changed that picture.

Benefits changes included

Other changes in the district also are helping the budget.

About 70 percent of the staff has been switched to a high-deductible insurance plan and the district offers a wellness plan, both factors helping control costs. Greendale has seen its health insurance rates increase steadily by 4 percent a year, while state and national health insurance rates have been increasing, on average, 10 to 12 percent. The district predicts an increase of 8 percent this year, still less than the average.

Due to the state's Act 10, which eliminated many bargaining powers for public employee unions, the district has been able to decrease its severance liability. Many employees must now pay half the contribution for their pensions. The district estimates it is saving $1.8 million due to Act 10.

Staying competitive

While changes at the state level give the district more latitude to implement money-saving changes, officials are aware of the need to maintain a competitive compensation package for district employees, Erin Green, director of business services, said.

The district has budgeted for a 3 percent increase for salaries, tied to the 3.1 percent increase in the consumer price index. Most employees had taken a 7 to 8 percent pay cut as a result of Act 10 provisions.

The planned merger of the Greendale library, community learning center and park and recreation program is included in the budget. The district is planning on spending $50,000.

It also saw a bond rating increase to Aa2 from Aa3.

"That's an important factor." Green said. "It gives you a lower interest rate and makes your bonds attractive. It's also a marker of stability."

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