Q: What is ?Fund 80??
A: A property tax that school districts may levy for ?community programs and services.? Unlike property tax levies for school operations, Fund 80 property taxes are subject to less restrictive revenue limits.
Beginning in 1993, Wisconsin law has imposed limits on the increases in residential property taxes that school districts may levy to pay for the operations of the k-12 educational program. Unless a referendum passes, the districts may increase taxes only up to a limit determined by a legal formula.
Since 2000-2001 the legislature has allowed districts to levy property taxes outside of the ?revenue limits? for certain ?community programs and services?. Funds raised in this way are known as ?Community Service? funds or ?Fund 80?. The dollars collected are residential property tax dollars. In other words, local taxpayers contribute property taxes to the schools in two ways?through taxes for operation of the schools that are limited and through taxes for community services and programs that are not limited.
Q: Are there limits on how districts spend ?community service? funds?
A: Yes. Following state law, the Department of Public Instruction identifies the activities that can and cannot be funded by ?community service? taxes.
Districts may adopt a separate tax levy to pay for community services such as adult education, community recreation programs, evening swimming pool operation and sports leagues, elderly food service programs, non-special education preschool, day care services, and other programs which are not elementary and secondary educational programs but have the primary function of serving the community. Access to ?community service? activities may not be limited to pupils enrolled in the district’s formal K-12 educational programs.
Q: What are the characteristics of a ?community service? activity?
A: The Department of Public Instruction lists the following features as characteristics of a ?community service? activity.?
The activity takes place outside of the usual K-12 instructional and extracurricular time periods.
? The activity is open to everyone (age appropriate) in the community.
? Additional direct cost is incurred in operating the program.
? The cost of the activity is recovered through user fees unless the school board makes a policy decision that program operations should be subsidized by a separate community service tax levy.
Q: What kinds of activities do not qualify for ?community service? tax support?
A: According to the Department of Public Instruction, the following activities do not qualify for community service tax support:?
Activities which limit access to only pupils enrolled in the school district, such as inter-scholastic athletics and other extra-curricular activities, pupil clubs, dances, field trips, student seminars and symposiums.
? Costs for district-wide instructional program administration and support services.
? Expenditures for the welfare of and safety of pupils and staff involved with K-12 instructional programs.
? Facilities, sites and improvements unless specifically for community service activities. Any facilities funded with general obligation debt, including state trust fund loans, will require a debt service tax levy accounted for in the district’s Debt Service Fund. Any such debt service levy is subject to revenue limitations if the related debt was not approved by referendum.
? Custodian, building and site maintenance, security services and utility costs may not be covered by ?community service? funds unless an additional cost can be directly associated with a specifically provided community service activity.
This explanation is based on information provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction at http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/dpi/dfm/sfms/ltrjun7_02.html.