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State Cuts to Schools Save Taxpayers Money in 2012

Because the state's biennial budget cut the total taxes Elmbrook Schools can collect, district taxpayers will see savings.

The state budget's 5.5 percent cut in public schools' revenue authority will save the owner of the average valued home in Brookfield about $220 in property taxes, the city's finance director said Tuesday.

Because the receives the vast majority of its revenue from taxes, the state's 5.5 percent lowering of school revenue caps actually translated to a 7.2 percent cut in the taxes collected by Elmbrook.

On December property tax bills, Elmbrook will levy a total of about $59.6 million, down about 7.2 percent from the approximately $64.2 million in taxes collected the previous year, according to figures city Finance Director Robert Scott supplied to Brookfield aldermen Tuesday.

Aldermen unanimously approved the 2012 city budget, which increases general fund spending about 1.8 percent and collects just less than 1 percent more in taxes for city services.

The owner of the averaged valued $335,000 home will pay $16 more for city goverment. But that homeowner's total property tax bill — covering the city, county, schools, technical college and state — will be down $220, Scott said.

The city's property tax rate will be $5.45 per $1,000 of assessed home value. Elmbrook's property tax rate will be $9.30 per $1,000 of assessed home value. The total tax rate (with city, schools, county, state and technical college) will be $16.26 per $1,000 of assessed value, which is down nearly 4 percent from the previous year's total tax rate of $16.92 per $1,000.

PROPERTY TAX RATES (per $1,000 of assessed home value) Taxing body 2010-'11 2011-'12 Change City of Brookfield $5.40 $5.45 0.91% Elmbrook Schools $10.03 $9.30 -7.25% Waukesha Schools $8.76 $8.58 -2.11% Waukesha County $1.85 $1.86 0.63% WCTC $1.16 $1.16 0.33% State of WI $0.15 $0.16 1.52% Source: City of Brookfield Finance Department

Scott told aldermen the city lost $280,000 in state aid for the 2012 city budget, but that was offset by pension savings from Act 10, the state's budget repair bill. Under the bill, non-union represented city employees have begun contributing 5.8 percent toward their pensions, money the city formerly contributed.

Brookfield will see additional pension cost savings in future years as union contract expire and those employees start to contribute, Scott said.

Tougher on Brookfield was the state's tax levy limit on municipalities, limiting increases to construction growth and debt service.

Despite levy limits, the city has not had to lay off staff as some communities have, which Scott credited in part to the city's five-year budget forecasting and prudent planning, as well as a strong although flat tax base.

Total city spending, including the general fund, utilities and other special revenue accounts, will be about $72.8 million, compared to $72.7 million in 2011.

The city's tax levy increase of 0.95 percent is the third lowest in 21 years, Scott said.

The only debate on the budget occurred when Ald. Ron Balzer said he believed an open position in the city's water department should not be funded in the budget because the department was overstaffed. City Public Works Director Tom Grisa disagreed, saying the position needed to be filled.

Balzer agreed to drop his request after Mayor Steve Ponto agreed to sit down with him, Grisa and others to analyze the department's responsibilities and staffing needs.

Bernard Forand November 16, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Here we go again. Take the money from the education and dumb down the populace and let the savings go to the wealthy. Expenditures’ remain the same as laborers fork over more of their pay to pay for it. Sad state affaire for the people with cutting jobs in the near future. Oh what leadership… Ain’t ignorance a blissful benefit for the weak minded?
Big Pete November 17, 2011 at 05:33 AM
Yippee if I own a $335,000 house I get enough to buy another gun. Who cares if they closed my neighborhood school and my kids have to ride the bus past the school they went to for 4 years. That's a cool $18 a month. Well worth it my kids are spoiled anyways.

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