Tax rate decreasing, levy increasing in West De Pere
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – Property owners in the West De Pere School District will see a lower tax rate for the 2021-22 school year, compared to last year, after the School Board approved the budget Oct. 20.
The School Board approved the 2021-22 budget of $43,907,671, an increase from $42,357,609 the previous year.
Total state revenues for 2021-22 are projected at $30,153,201, local property taxes at $12,280,426, federal revenues at $1,028,581 and other local revenues at $577,915.
More than 63% of the district’s budget goes to instruction (including teacher salaries and benefits), compared to the state average of 53%.
“If we ever did have to cut our budget, salary and benefits are what would be hit,” District Business Manager Dawn Laboy said.
The budget total includes a tax levy of $22,599,163, up from $21,939,321 the previous year.
The tax levy includes $12,243,163 for the general fund, $10.18 million for the referendum debt service fund, and $176,000 for the non-referendum debt service fund.
The budget includes a tax rate of $9.11 per $1,000 of equalized property value, the lowest in the past decade.
Though the levy total is up 3.01% from last year, because the district’s equalized value also increased, this year’s tax rate dropped 53 cents from last year’s rate of $9.64 per $1,000.
“It’s only one thing they take into consideration when they figure out what your taxes are going to be, but we are trying to help with that,” Laboy said.
Despite the tax rate decrease, property owners could pay more in taxes because of higher land values.
The rate dropped by 10 to 55 cents per $1,000 every year since at least 2012, except for 2013 and 2019, when it rose a penny.
The levy in 2012 was $18,897,404, and it carried a rate that year of $11.58.
During that time period, the district has seen an increase in equalized value, from $1,632,285,268 in 2012 to $2,484,397,359 in 2021.
Overall, the equalized value of the district has increased by 9.16% since last year, and 35% in the past decade from $1,632,285,268, according to a report from Barb Van Deurzen, board clerk.
Housing, commercial and industrial projects are projected to continue in the West De Pere School District, and with those, equalized value is projected to continue to increase, the report said.
With the development, the district has also seen an increase in student enrollment.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, West De Pere had 3,587 students in 2020-21, up from 2,994 in 2012-13.
Enrollment took a slight dip following the COVID-19 pandemic.
West De Pere’s current 3,564 students include 1,045 students at West De Pere High School, 951 students at Hemlock Creek Elementary School, 770 students at West De Pere Middle School, 765 students at Westwood Elementary, and 33 students at Phantom Knight charter school.