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District mill rate to increase by 6.3

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Before a voting audience of less than 50 people, the school district adopted a budget of $50,109,362 for the 2008-09 school year.

The taxpayer portion of that budget is $27,845,258. That translates into a new mill rate of $7.48 per $1,000 of property valuation, or $1,496 on a $200,000 residence, about $92 over last year. That represents an increase of 44 cents over last year, a 6.33 percent increase.

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The district did build and open River Crest, a new elementary school with a capacity for 580 students. The new levy does include some of the debt on the $12.4 million in bonds for the school construction.

School Board Finance Committee Chairman Brian Bell and Fiscal Services Director Tim Erickson outlined the district's economic picture for those present at the state-mandated annual meeting.

Erickson pointed out that while district valuation increased this year it was primarily due to a former tax increment financing district, the St. Croix Business Park, being added to the tax rolls. In addition to a smaller property value increase, the former TIF property increased the district's taxable property by more than $191 million.

Under the state's equalized valuation formula, the Hudson School District will receive less in state aid for education. It is a means by which the state "equalizes" the cost of education from district to district, benefiting those communities with less property value.

State aid to Hudson decreased by 4.5 percent, from $24,549,605 in 2007-08 to $23,907,317 in 2008-09, or $1.4 million.

Erickson did note that this year the district will receive a one-time payment of $1,312,325 because of the TIF district closeout.

Levy below limit

Erickson pointed out that the Hudson School District will be levying below the state-mandated allowable limit for the district by approximately $5.5 million. In 2007-08, Hudson ranked second only to the Milwaukee School District with 92,000 students, in a levy amount below the allowable limit.

The Hudson district's mill rate was among the four lowest in the 39 CESA 11 schools in 2007-08 and was in the bottom 10 percent of k-12 districts statewide.

The latest numbers available from the Department of Public Instruction for 2006-07 put the district's cost per student at $9,447, with just five districts across the state with a lower cost per student. Among districts statewide with 5,000 or more students, Hudson ranks 28th out of 30. Among CESA 11 schools, Hudson has the lowest cost per student.

Bell said the district's overall financial condition is solid and earned it one of the top bond ratings by Moody's. He quoted a report from the financial institution that described the district's finances among the "best in the state because of its growing tax base, strong cash reserve and manageable debt."

Bell said costs for the district have gone up because of the opening of River Crest as well as rising fuel costs and the addition of the TIF district to the tax rolls and decreased state aid. But he said he is proud of the accomplishments the district has made over the last year. "Taxpayers can be confident that they are getting high value for their tax dollars," he said.

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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