Board approves the wording for fall referendum

August 15, 2018 GMT

The Watertown Unified School District Board of Education Monday evening unanimously approved the wording of a proposed referendum question that will come before voters at the Nov. 6 election.

The question approved by the board will ask voters for an average of $3.3 million in additional spending per year over five years, an amount that will require the district to cut spending annually by approximately $700,000 each year.

This question known as “option two” was favored by the board and will not raise property taxes over the current level.

Officially, the question reads, “Shall the Watertown Unified School District, Jefferson and Dodge Counties, Wisconsin be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $3,300,000 per year for the 2018-2019 school year through the 2022-2023 school year, for non-recurring purposes consisting of partially funding educational programs, services and building maintenance?”

The school district’s board of education recently surveyed residents of the district to gather input regarding the district’s operational funding needs.

The survey asked residents about their thoughts on a potential operating referendum to address the district’s proposed $4 million annual deficit in each of the next five years.

While the school district’s board of education approved the referendum question at Monday’s meeting, the district will now work to ensure that all the information families and the community need regarding this option will be shared.

The other choices the board faced included Options 1 and 3.

Option 1: Hold a referendum averaging $4 million per year to maintain the current funding level. This option would result in a tax increase of $50 on each $100,000 of property value in the first year and then decrease the following years. In the final year (2023), the tax impact would be an increase of $4 on each $100,000 of property value over the current level.

Option 3: Hold a smaller referendum, requiring larger budget cuts than in Option 2. This option would reduce the tax rate over the current level.