Gillett School Board reviews successful vote

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Additional taxes approved in referendum will be billed starting in December 2019
By: 

Warren Bluhm, wbluhm@newmedia-wi.com

Don’t look for the effects of the successful Gillett School District referendum on the property tax bills that the Oconto County Treasurer’s Office will be mailing out soon.

Voters on Nov. 6 gave Gillett school officials permission to exceed state-imposed revenue limits by $600,000 for each of the next three years in order to maintain current programs, but the additional taxes won’t be collected until the 2019-20 school year, Superintendent Todd Carlson reminded the School Board at its Nov. 20 meeting.

“A lot of people did an awful lot of work, and I’m really proud of the people,” Carlson said as he reviewed the election results compared with two unsuccessful referendum questions in 2016, “I think there was a conscious effort to get out more information, and I think that showed up (in the results).”

A three-year, $3.8-million referendum question was rejected in April 2016 by a 70.8-29.2 percent margin. The board went back to voters four months later with a scaled-down $2.1 million package, but that was turned down by a 62.8-37.2 percent margin.

This time the $1.8 million question passed by a 54-46 percent margin, after the district released more detailed information and surveyed the community to gauge its willingness to support the added taxes.

“I think any time when you ask people to pay more taxes to support your school, that’s not always an easy thing,” Carlson said. “I mean, no one likes to pay taxes, but to have that support from the community and from the district, I just think that’s really special.”

He noted that 93 percent of school referendum questions around the state were approved by local voters Nov. 6, in an election where state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, running as a Democrat, defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“Education was made a priority in some of the races that were out there, and that really showed up with the referendum results as well,” Carlson said.

School board president Ron Lenz said board members and the community worked to get the word out about the district’s needs this time.

“It was really great to see the support that the school has gotten from the voters, in the city and outlying areas,” Lenz said. “I’m very proud of that and thankful for everybody’s involvement.”