School board approves budget, tax levy; April 2022 referendum in planning stages
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
TOMAHAWK – The School District of Tomahawk Board of Education, during its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 26, passed a pair of resolutions approving the district’s budget and tax levy for the 2021-2022 school year.
The board is in the early planning stages for an April 2022 referendum. During the meeting, the board formed an ad hoc committee tasked with overseeing the process.
The district’s budget came in at $20,736,168.00, according to the resolution.
Interim District Administrator Joe Innis told the board that the district received roughly $200,000.00 less in state aid revenue than previously expected, and that reduction was tacked onto the district’s deficit.
Innis said the district faces a $1.8 million budget deficit, and monies from the district’s fund balance would be used to cover the shortfall.
“That is with the fact that the district cut over a million dollars this year out of the budget,” Innis stated. “So, had that cut not been made, the deficit would have been approximately $3 million. That is a position that any district cannot be in for very long.”
The district’s tax levy for the 2021-2022 school year totaled $11,136,817.00, the resolution said.
The estimated mill rate presented in September was $6.99 per $1,000.00 in valuation, down from mill rates in previous years. The mill rate was $9.53 during the 2017-2018 school year; $9.36 in 2018-2019; $9.31 in 2019-2020; and $9.00 in 2020-2021.
The lower mill rate is attributed to a roughly $3 million (approximately 22%) decrease in levy due to the expiration of the district’s previous referendum and the subsequent failures of the district’s two referendum attempts, as well as an increase in property valuation.
The board approved the budget and levy unanimously.
Innis noted that the board is in the early planning stages for an April 2022 referendum, calling the spending request “very, very critical to the future of the district, to the education that the kids receive, to the health of the district overall, (and) really to the whole community, because this school district belongs to the people of the Tomahawk School District.”
“Everybody has a stake in seeing that this is a district that provides a quality education to the kids in Tomahawk and the Tomahawk School District so they can not only become future leaders of this community, but also future leaders throughout our state and our country,” Innis stated.
Development of an April 2022 referendum comes after two recent referendum attempts failed by narrow margins. Four-year spending requests appeared on ballots in Nov. 2020 and April 2021, and voters rejected them by 51 votes and 33 votes, respectively.
With the expiration of its previous four-year referendum in June of this year, the district lost roughly $3 million in operational revenue.
“As a result, cuts were made, and as a result, we now have a $1.8 million deficit,” Innis said. “This referendum will be to restore that funding that the district had two years ago.”
During the meeting, the board formed an ad hoc committee tasked with overseeing the planning process for an April 2022 referendum. The committee will be made up of board members Ron Zimmerman, Dick Huseby, Shar Kirsch, Deb Velleux and Dave Long.