Onalaska School District seeks OK on two financial measures Nov. 8

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ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) — Onalaska School District voters will be asked to approve two financial referendum questions on the general election ballot Nov. 8.

The questions, which the school board approved at its meeting Monday, are:

  • Whether to renew a five-year, non-recurring operational budget item to allow the district to exceed its state-imposed revenue limit from $4.6 million to $5.4 million beginning in the 2023-24 school year.
    The money is needed to cover expenses related to inflation and inadequare funding support from the state during the past decade, board members said.
  • Whether to allow the district to issue up to $75 million in general obligation bonds to cover costs of several key facility projects, including a renovation of the middle school and several of the highest-priority projects for the high school.

“Thanks to the engagement of our community, we are able to move forward with two solutions that will allow us to address our district’s most urgent facility and financial needs in a comprehensive way,” said board President Ann Garrity.

“At the same time, we are sensitive to the needs of our community and have worked to keep the impact on taxpayers as low as possible,” Garrity said.

Based on current assumptions, approving the operational budget referendum will not increase the tax levy from the 2021-22 rate, according to the district.

The capital referendum would increase taxes $174 a year on every $100,000 of fair market value.

The board’s decision to put the referendum questions on the ballot after a comprehensive process to evaluate the district’s facility and budget needs and develop potential solutions, according to a district news release.

The process included the work of the Community Facilities Task Force, which reviewed the district’s facility needs and created a set of recommendations.

The board also reviewed budget forecasts and anticipated challenges. District residents provided input and suggestions through a recent survey in which almost 90 percent of the respondents said the district’s most urgent facility needs should be addressed now, and 87 percent said the district’s most urgent financial needs should be addressed now, according to the district.

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