School bond and tax elections in Wisconsin

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School bond and tax elections in Wisconsin are held under two circumstances:
  • To issue new bonding
  • Issue debt exceeding $1,000,000
  • To exceed revenue caps.

Laws affecting school finance

Revenue caps

In Wisconsin, there is a revenue cap that limits the amount of property tax revenue for school districts in Wisconsin. The formula is calculated in four steps.

Step 1-Add the amount of state aid received and property taxes levied in the previous school year. When the result is added, you divide the result by the average amount of pupils enrolled in the last three years. School districts cannot take into account taxes levied for community resource programs (i.e. Milwaukee Recreation, MSCR, etc.) (120.13 (19) Wisc. Statutes) or the number of pupils who come into a new school district that reside in the former district (Wisconsin Stats 121.91 (4) (c)) under the three year average enrollment.

Step 2-Take the revenue increase per pupil under the previous school year and multiplied it by 1 plus the allowable rate of increase which is expressed by a decimal. The allowable rate of increase is also known as the QEO, the qualified economic offer (Wisconsin Stats s. 73.0305)

Step 3-Add the Step 1 and Step 2 results

Step 4-Multiply the Step 3 result (Sum of Steps 1 and 2) by the average amount of pupils being enrolled in the past three school years (Current and the past two years)

The final result should be within a per pupil revenue ceiling that cannot exceed $9,000 per pupil. (Wisconsin Statutes 121.905 (1))

Conduct of the bond election, limitations, rules

Authority conducting elections

The respective county clerk is responsible for conducting elections.

Election dates

During the spring primary or general election season (February or April), or the fall primary or general election season (September or November).

Needed majority

A simple majority is needed to pass a school referendum in Wisconsin.

Wording of measures

In Wisconsin all ballot measures for school bonds can be placed on a consolidated ballot (Wisconsin Statutes 5.655). In terms of wording a ballot measure, a measure cannot be approved in which requires a negative vote to approve a proposition or an affirmative vote to disapprove a proposition. If there is more than one question on the same referendum ballot the questions used on the same ballot measure are numbered in chronological order. (Wisconsin Statutes 5.64).

Required notice of bond election

Under Wisconsin law, must be a minimum 42 days notice after a school board approves a resolution for a referendum/ballot measure before an election. This is regardless if its a regular or a special election. (Wisconsin Stats 8.37)

External links

References