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Letter to the Editor: Concerns about total cost of Kewaskum School referendum

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Oct. 29, 2016 – Kewaskum, WI – Kewaskum School District Residents,

With the election next week for the Kewaskum School District Referendum, I believe it is important that we have as much factual information at our disposal so that we, as an informed electorate, can make an educated decision that best serves the need of the school district and us, the taxpayers, being asked to carry the burden of the tax increase should the referendum pass.

I attended the public referendum presentation last Tuesday at Farmington Elementary School. Superintendent Jim Smasal was there along with others to make the presentation for the proposal and to answer questions concerning the referendum.

There are a few numbers from our discussion that stick out:
#1) The amount of money that the school district is asking to borrow is $28,420,000. We would have to borrow the money at an interest rate of between 2.75% to 3%. That leaves us, the taxpayer, paying back a total of $38 to $40 million dollars over the next 20 years. The true cost of the loan is approximately $2 million dollars a year for the next 20 years.

#2) Superintendent Smasal informed us that the current pupil cost is approximately $9,700/student. If the referendum is passed, the new cost per student will be approximately $11,400/student. With 1,839 students in the district, that leaves us with $3+ million more to pay next year than we paid this year. The referendum loan will account for $2 million/yr in payments. How does the other $1+ million get paid? (additional higher taxes)

#3) If one is to borrow money now is a good time to do it with interest rates being so low.

#4) We are currently paying off a loan from the 1999 school referendum. That loan is scheduled to be paid off in 2 years. At that time our taxes will drop significantly if the new referendum does not pass.

#5) What the district is asking us is, not only to pass a new $.19/thousand tax increase(that number is not guaranteed), but to continue to be taxed and to continue to pay the old tax rate voted on in 1999 of approximately $.46/thousand. The true cost of this referendum is more like $.65/thousand.

As a Kewaskum School District taxpayer for the past 23 years, I want to be sure that we are spending money wisely. We do need improvements in our High School and our Middle School. Is $40 million too much, too little, or just right?

Be informed, get out and vote on Tuesday and let the majority speak for our community.

Mike Koepke


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