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, July 10, 2017

Another School Tax Increase
The groundwork was further laid at the June Mercer School Board meeting for another school tax increase.  This one could cost property owners possibly as much as a 10% increase in school taxes.  It would not be a one-time hit, but could remain on tax bills for as much as 20 years.  And it could be done without taxpayer approval. (See MSF Mercer Taxpayer Alert 6/19/17)
The increase would result from a $2,432,000 to $2,673,200 improvement program to the school building, which Administrator Erik Torkelson has deemed as “critical.”  An “option” for additional improvements could add another $650,000 to the total costs.  
At the May School Board meeting, representatives of McKinstry Co., an engineering and consulting firm hired by the school to perform an audit of the physical plant, presented a preliminary report.  At the June meeting, McKinstry representatives detailed what they said were the needed repairs: roof replacement (part of the roof was replaced two years ago with a $300,000 loan which is costing taxpayers $126,671 in finance charges), lighting and electrical improvements, mechanical upgrades, including a new boiler, and window and door replacements.
A McKinstry representative seemed to outstep his bounds when he said he wanted to dispel the myth that closing the school would save the taxpayers money.  In his comments, which were probably aided by coaching, he said that by sending the students elsewhere “your taxes are going way up and transportation is going to kill you”.    
Apparently without the benefit of any creditable study, he also said that without a school the value of Mercer houses may drop. “That’s very factual, very obvious, that’s the hard reality,” he added.  Of course, McKinstry would like the Mercer school improvement program business.
There are many pros and cons for closing the school. This is not the first time the issue has been raised as to the questionable quality of education the students receive vs.  the cost of operating a K12 school with only 134 students.
But another school tax increase?
Mercer taxpayers are still smarting from a punishing 2013 $650,000 tax increase referendum which was misrepresented to them when told it would cost a meager $11 per $100,000 assessed property valuation but actually cost $137.   This resulted in a whopping 37 % increase in school taxes.  And the referendum is forever, not for just a limited number of years, which is usually the case with tax increase referendums.
But what are the options to another school tax increase?  MSF invites readers to submit their suggestions in the comment section following this blog.  Suitable suggestions will be incorporated into a future blog.  No foul language or name calling, please.


Anonymous said...

Home values in Mercer could only rise with the closing of the eyesore that is Mercer School. Property taxes are already way too high for run down Mercer. Closing the school thus lowering taxes would only make homes in Mercer more desirable. The school age population of Mercer even including those who escaped thru open enrollment does not warrant a separate school. Take a clue from Manitowish Waters ditch the money put in what you call a school. Invest the money on town amenities to attract homebuyers and tourists. After all even Torky does not want to live here even while he sucks the taxpayers dry.

Anonymous said...

McKinstry is going to say and do anything to get business! You people in Mercer deserve what you get for just sitting there and not speaking up! What on earth does it take to wake you up from your coma???