The Sauk Prairie School District is expecting a balanced budget for the 2019-20 school year, according to the projections from Executive Director of Business Services Kathy Stoltz.

The projected fund balance for the school year is projected to be $8.8 million, after total expenditures of $31 million and revenues of the same amount. The fund balance would be the same as the previous year, and about $100,000 more than the year before.

The proposed total school levy of $19.97 million is a 6.44% increase from last year’s figure of $18.77 million.

Stoltz who, began serving as Executive Director in August, said the numbers are not final.

“The numbers being presented tonight will change by the time we get to our final meeting in October,” Stoltz said. “These numbers were pulled two to three weeks ago… Even now, it’s old data.”

Although there are 16 municipalities in the school district contributing to the tax levy, the bulk of revenue comes from a handful of that group. Stoltz said the Village of Prairie du Sac, Sauk City, Merrimac, Roxbury, West Point, and the Town of Prairie du Sac make up “the big six of that pie” by contributing more than half the tax levy revenue.

The Sauk Prairie School District’s mill rate is currently $9.51, which translates to $951 in yearly taxes on a $100,000 home. The median price of a home in the Sauk Prairie School District is currently $349,450. For a home of that value, a $9.51 mill rate would translate to $3,323 in yearly taxes.

The Sauk Prairie School District’s mill rate is lower than it has been in the past. During the 2014-15 school year, it was $10.49.

At a school board meeting in August, Lisa Voisin of Baird Public Finance said the mill rate would have dropped last year if not for debt prepayment. The payments ease the debt burden on school districts and has saved Sauk Prairie School District “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Voisin estimated.

Stoltz said the current estimate is $800,000 in savings to the district.

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The seating arrangement for the annual school board meeting was changed from the usual horseshoe shape to an L-shaped panel style seating, with School Superintendent Jeff Wright and Administrative Assistant Melissa Sumwalt sitting perpendicular to the school board members.

“It’s exciting to hear we’re bringing a balanced budget forward to our district,” Wright said. The meeting was Wright’s first as superintendent.

The budget will not be finally approved until later in the year.

“We take a number of attempts at this budget before it becomes finalized,” said School Board President Richard Judge. “It’s a living breathing document all through the year.”

During the regular school board meeting, School Board member Dennis Virta said recently spoke with a school board member from another district and the topic of fund balances came up. When he shared what the Sauk Prairie School District’s balance was, the other school board member was surprised at the value.

“He was amazed at our fiscal responsibility at the school district,” Virta said.

Because the Sept. 9 meeting was the annual school meeting, all present were allowed to make and second motions, and vote upon them.

Mark Fry, who is not a school board member, requested a $4 raise for school board member compensation. Fry said he wanted to ensure people were being compensated fairly.

“No one on the board is looking for the raise,” said Mark Fry. Fry said every board member he spoke with voiced opposition to the idea.

In a vote by the individuals present, the motion passed, raising school board member compensation to $78 per meeting. All school board members abstained from the vote.

You can reach Jake Ekdahl on Twitter @JakeaEkdahl or contact him at 608-697-6353

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