MOUNT PLEASANT — Racine Unified School District is set to double its Community Service Fund levy — from $5 million last year to $10 million this year — with the additional funds going toward its new aquatic center.
Even with this change, the district’s tax rate is still expected to decrease by 5%, from $10 per $1,000 in equalized property value last year to $9.49 this year, although many residents will still see an increase in their taxes because of increases in property values over the past year.
Neither funding for the approximately $23 million aquatic center nor the increase in the CSF levy were included in the district’s budget when a public hearing was held in September, and at the time the district did not release the exact proposed property tax rate.
The district is planning to set aside $6.75 million out of the Community Service Fund in this year’s budget to go toward the aquatic center.
The CSF can only be used for projects that serve the community beyond Racine Unified, and does not have a limit, unlike the regular tax levy.
The 42,000-square-foot aquatic center, with a proposed location west of Case High School, would replace Case’s 52-year-old pool, which was shut down due to safety issues in May 2018. It would also be intended to serve Horlick and Park high school swimmers once their pools inevitably become unusable due to age. Both of those pools are also more than 50 years old. In addition, the pool would be available to other Unified students and members of the community for things such as swim club practices, swimming lessons and parties.
The School Board is set to vote on its 2019-20 tax levy and budget during a special meeting at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 30, in building 1 of the administrative services campus, 3109 Mount Pleasant St., Racine.
Pool funding and the increase in the CSF are included in online documents posted by the district ahead of the special meeting. According to those documents, the proposed tax levy is $93,465,547 — about 2.4% higher than last year. The increased tax levy, in conjunction with reduction in the tax rate, was obtained mostly due to a 7.84% increase in property values within the district.
When the district first presented its proposal for the aquatic center to the School Board last week, Chief Financial Officer Marc Duff said his office was still in the process of developing a financing plan for the project.
Proposed plans for the aquatic center include a four-lane warm water pool and a 10-lane cold water pool with a diving well separated by a movable bulkhead. The natatorium would have seating for 800. The School Board has not taken any votes on the project.
Sports complex funding
The School Board voted last week to put an additional $500,000 out of the CSF toward the sports complex it is building in partnership with Racine County at Pritchard Park. Unified and the county had already committed $3 million each to the project. According to Emily Neubauer, Unified’s communications manager, funding for the Pritchard project did not contribute to the increase in the CSF levy.
The district expects the CSF levy to decrease from the $10 million mark in the future, Neubauer said.
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