The Onalaska School District predicted a small drop in the property tax rate this year despite a $300,000 reduction in state funding during a budget hearing Monday night.

Finance Director Kent Ellickson said while the budget won’t be finalized until Oct. 23, the district predicts the tax rate will fall from 9.89 per $1,000 of equalized property value to 9.67 this year.

This means a family with a $100,000 home can expect to pay close to $967 in property taxes to the school district.

A drop in the tax rate wouldn’t guarantee a reduction in property taxes for district residents. If a resident’s home has increased in value since last year, they could pay the same or more this year.

The drop in the tax rate will be matched by an increase in the tax levy.

Ellickson said the district expects the tax levy to increase 1.64 percent from $17.9 million last year to $18.2 million.

The increase in the tax levy accounts for a $300,000 drop in state funding this year.

Ellickson said the decrease in state dollars was balanced out by an equivalent drop in the district’s debt service. The result is a tax rate that is expected to remain relatively flat.

He said lower spending in the 2015-16 school year compared to previous years meant the district would receive less in aid this year.

Superintendent Fran Finco said the reduction in state funding doesn’t mean the district has less to work with.

“Even though the state aid is down 300,000, it doesn’t mean we get less money,” he said. “It means we get it from the local.”

Ellickson said the district is still missing a few pieces of the puzzle.

He said the district has yet to finalize the third Friday student count or determine the equalized property value of the district.

The district will receive the finalized general aid figures from the Department of Public Instruction Oct. 15. Ellickson said until all of the data is finalized the district won’t know for certain whether the tax-rate will go up or down.

“It could still go up,” he said. “Hopefully it stays relatively flat.”

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