Marathon sets levy (maybe)
School board may revise tax increase at Thursday meeting
The Marathon Board of Education on Monday passed a 2019-20 tax levy, but may schedule a do-over this coming Thursday.
The board dipped twice into fund balance in approving next year’s tax levy, but still wound up increasing general fund taxes by $245,333.
These added taxes are calculated to jump the district’s 2019-20 tax rate by an additional 36 cents per thousand dollars of fair market property value.
District administrator Rick Parks on Tuesday said he will propose the school board regroup on Thursday to officially pass a school district budget, which was neglected on Monday, and also to possibly dip a third time into fund balance to reduce the school tax increase.
Parks said the board can take as much as $96,000 from a retired teachers health care fund balance and, possibly, reduce the coming year’s tax rate by 20 cents. If school board members elect to keep the current levy, Marathon school taxes will be higher. This current year, a Marathon School District resident with an average value $251,000 home paid a tax mil rate of $10.38 for a total school tax of $2,605. This coming year, the same owner, whose house is now worth an extra two percent or $256,020, will, if Monday’s board action is not reversed, pay a $10.74 tax rate. The resulting school tax will be $2,749, an increase of $144.
Board members reached twice into district checkbook balances to minimize next year’s tax increase. They agreed to take $166,828 out of the district’s $2,481,787 general fund balance, leaving $2,314,959. The board also took $84,373 from its debt service account to reduce debt service taxes. Next year’s debt service levy will be $658,825. A full debt service levy would have been $743,198.
The administrator told school board members that Marathon School District is being hit with $1,142,340 in extra costs over last year. Total general fund spending, he said will climb from $8,537,749 to $9,680,09, an increase of 13 percent.
Major district cost increases, Parks said, were:
_ Higher health insurance for employees, $130,000 (eight percent).
_ Teacher and staff salary increases, $78,000.
_ Distance learning expenses, $65,000.
_ Maintenance budget, $130,000.
_ District technology budget, $40,000.
_ Special education cost, $236,000 (eight percent).
_ Added parking lot driveway at Marathon Area Elementary School (no cost estimate).
Parks said the district has a bigger revenue cap this year, the result of adding another eight students to its threeyear, rolling enrollment average, but slightly less state aid to help finance added spending.
The district’s current state equalization aid is $3,707,485. Next year’s aid will fall slightly to $3,699,556.
The combination of higher enrollment and greater spending authority, but less state aid means higher local property taxes, Parks explained.
Board members said they look forward to Marathon School District taxes decreasing in a few years.
Currently, the district pays $743,198 in debt service, but, as of 2023, debt service is expected to drop to $320,000 per year.
With less money being paid on school loans, the school board will be able to reduce the overall tax levy.