TORKELSON'S COMP.-- $168,641
Salary -- $137,937; Benefits -- $30,704
(2nd highest paid of state's 424 administrators)
ACT AND DPI SCORES -- 16.6 & 61.9
(Lowest of 21 Northern WI schools)
MERCER $25,281
Wisconsin $12,842

National $10,667

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mercer Taxpayer Alert
The stage was apparently set at the May Mercer School Board meeting for another whopping school tax increase.  And this one can be done by exceeding property tax levy limits without taxpayer approval. 
What could amount to a cost of several million dollars is in the form of needed repairs to the school’s physical plant.  The school building infrastructure was described as “aging” with some of its systems and equipment at “end of life.”   
This assessment was given by a representative of the McKinstry Co., an engineering and consulting firm hired by the school to perform an audit of the physical plant to determine the need for repairs to the building and the replacement of equipment.  And the report was abysmal.
Everything from the boiler, to the roof, to lighting, to the windows, to air handling units, to the electric panels, and on and on, seems to be in need of repair or replacement.  It sounded like the building is falling apart.
The repairs can be financed as result of Wisconsin Act 32 which allows school districts to approve a taxpayer assessment in excess of the levy limits without a referendum.  The Act is designed to implement energy efficient measures.  The McKinstry representative estimated that these improvements could result in an energy savings cost to the school of about $70,000 a year.
McKinstry will provide a breakdown of the cost of the repairs at the June 26 school board meeting.  Act 32 requires that the property tax assessment must be taken in one year with five years to complete the projects.
School board member Christa Reinert asked for a prioritization of the repair needs. 
Mercer taxpayers are still smarting from a punishing 2013 $650,000 tax increase referendum which was misrepresented to them by Administrator Erik Torkelson and school board members when told it would cost a meager $11 per $100,000 assessed property tax valuation but actually cost $137.  That increase is forever, not for just a limited number of years, which is usually the case with tax increase referendums.

So, Mr., Mrs., Miss. Mercer Taxpayer, you might get ready for another school tax increase.

(For the record: A different portion of the roof was replaced about a year ago at a cost of $250,000.  A 20-year $300,000 loan was taken out to pay for the work, although Torkelson had more than $1 million of taxes collected but unused sitting idling in the bank.  That loan will cost Mercer taxpayers $126,671 in interest expenses. There remains more than $1 million in fund balances, part of which could be used for the proposed repairs without a tax increase.
Perhaps by suggesting a prioritization of the repair work, Christa Reinert is looking for a way to avoid a big tax hike, and, instead, do the work over a period of time paying for it from the normal budget.)


Anonymous said...

Why hire a consultant? Doesn't the school pay high wages to their "Director of Building and Grounds"? I think his name is Adam Custard?

Doesn't he know enough to do his job?

Anonymous said...

Pathetic. They're nothing but a bunch bunch of liars,