Referendum Information

The Gillett School District has spent the last year identifying needs, analyzing options, and gathering community feedback. In response to the results of the recent community survey, the Gillett Board of Education is moving forward with an operational referendum that will be voted on during the November 6, 2018 general election. Listed below are frequently asked questions that have come up. You may have additional questions or would like further information; this can be done by emailing your question to TigerPride@gillett.k12.wi.us or by attending future planned community meetings. The school board is committed to providing accurate and transparent information to our community. They would like to provide further information on questions regarding the referendum.

Why is an operating referendum needed?

The referendum is needed to cover a shortfall in funding due to the low revenue limit and to maintain current educational programming and student opportunities. In a community survey conducted in April 2018, the majority of residents supported a referendum to maintain current programs and services for the next three years.

What is meant by revenue limits?

The amount of revenue a district can raise from state aid and local property taxes is restricted by state statute. This restriction has been in existence since 1993. Gillett has been a low revenue district since that time.

Do other districts in Wisconsin ask taxpayers to exceed the revenue limits?

Referenda are not unique to the Gillett School District. In the past five years, there have been 258 referenda to exceed the revenue limit held by school districts in Wisconsin. You can search referenda reporting at: https://apps4.dpi.wi.gov/Referendum/CustomReporting.aspx. Many of the neighboring schools have gone to an operating referendum.

When would this referendum take effect?

This would take effect in the 2019-2020 school year. It would first impact 2020 property taxes.

What has happened since 2016 when Gillett had a failed referendum?

Since 2016 the district has made staffing, administration, and budget reductions. It has tapped into the district’s fund balance to maintain programs and services. The district fund balance has decreased from 38% of annual spending in 2016 to a projected 24% of spending in 2019. Auditors recommend that the fund balance be kept at 30% of annual spending.

Will the referendum pay for the current building renovations?

No. The building renovations are for energy savings and have received separate energy savings funding.

What happens if the community does not support an operational referendum?

Respondents to the survey shared they do not want to see cuts to programs and services. However, if the referendum does not pass, the school board will have to look at possible cuts to programs and short term borrowing to cover the time between spending and state and local funding received. The risk involved in any cuts is the potential loss of students to open enrollment and its effect on funding.

I read that Gillett has received an increase in state aid, approximately $300,000. Does this decrease the referendum amount?

No. Because of revenue limits placed by the State of Wisconsin, there is a limit on school funding to be received from the state and local taxpayers. If the state increases funding, the local property taxes drop to arrive at the same total. So, this increase in state funding does not increase total funding to the district, but helps the local taxpayers by a decrease in the tax levy.

Is the referendum to pay for increase in staffing and/or salary increases?

No. The salary increases for staff over the last few years have been less than 2%, trying to keep up with inflation. The district will continue to monitor staffing and all spending.

Why not just go for a recurring referendum?

The school board has attempted to be sensitive to community members that have difficulty with increased taxes. To pass a recurring referendum means to permanently increase taxes for those individuals. This may be difficult for many who are on a fixed income. Further, to conclude that the District needs a certain amount of money permanently, when there is continuous change in how much is permitted by the legislature may be overreaching. Also, the community’s support for a referendum may well vary from one year to the next. There may be a time when the community does not support all the additional funds requested. A recurring referendum effectively removes the right for the taxpayer to ever be asked again if they support the amount being requested. Lastly, recurring referendums have a higher fail rate than non-recurring referendums. It would certainly be a higher risk if the school board took this approach. In our community, it just seems best we give taxpayers an opportunity every few years to weigh in on the subject.

Did the staff responses skew the survey results?

No. The staff responses were not included in the final results considered by the board.

This operational referendum is for a three-year period. What happens in three years?

The revenue limits that the state of Wisconsin imposes for low revenue districts, such as Gillett, are scheduled to increase over the next few years. This, together with a recent positive trend in revenues and expenses, make us hopeful that future referendum may not be needed.

How will this referendum, if passed, affect me financially?

If you own property in the Gillett school district the school portion of your property taxes will increase from the previous year. The estimated amount of the increase was discussed in the community survey. For every $1,000 in property valuation the estimated increase would be $1.12 annually. For example, if you have a home valued at $80,000, the estimated increase would be 80 times $1.12, or $89.60 for each of the three years in the referendum.

Keep in mind that Gillett school taxes have decreased over the last few years. The tax mill rate over the last five years, along with Gillett’s rate compared to neighboring schools is in the Community Survey results on the school website. You can find that information at gillettschools.com. Click Community Survey Results under Quick Links and go to Financial Background.

There would be no other financial effect. The referendum does not affect state or federal income taxes, social security taxes, take home pay, or any other tax. Only property tax for property owned in the Gillett school district is affected.

Board Members

Ron Lenz

(920) 373-5586

Preston Peterson

(920) 606-9491

Cliff Gerbers

(920) 855-6349

Tracy Winkler

(920) 655-8565

James Karls

(715) 304-7204

Jamie Young

(920) 373-8505

Jamie Heroux

(920) 855-6850

School Administration

Todd Carlson

(920) 855-2137

Jason Dreier

(920) 855-2137

Curt Angeli

(920) 855-2119

I still have questions, how can I get more information?

Any Board Member or Administrator would be happy to answer your questions and discuss your concerns. Questions can also be emailed to TigerPride@gillett.k12.wi.us. Focus groups are being planned to allow community members to ask questions. Questions that come up repeatedly will be added to the Frequently Asked Questions on the school’s website, gillettschools.com.