The latest figures from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance show that Ripon’s school tax levy—the amount of money collected from school district residents in local property taxes—has increased a grand total of 4.5% in the decade from the 1999-00 through the 2008-09 school year. That represents a tax levy increase of less than one-half of one percent per year.
Meanwhile, the statewide school tax levy increased by 65% in the same ten-year time period due to substantial increases in many school districts. The statewide average was 6.5% annually—more each year than Ripon increased during the entire decade.
If the tax levy for the Ripon Area School District had kept pace with inflation during the decade, the tax levy would have been 21% higher for last school year. That amounts to $1.3 million less in taxes for that year than the Consumer Price Index would have allowed based on the beginning of the decade. At the same time the statewide school tax levy would have decreased by 17% which is approximately three-quarters of a billion dollars above the inflation rate for last school year.
In addition to a state funding formula that restricts annual budget increases to less than the rate of inflation, the Ripon Board of Education has provided strong fiscal management that chooses priorities within the existing resources. The significant increase in Ripon’s tax levy for 2009-10 was a direct result of the state’s decision to shift more of the cost of public education to local property taxes when the state budget ran into financial difficulty. Even with the 2009-10 tax levy increase, Ripon is still collecting a half million dollars less than is necessary to keep up with inflation during the past decade.