DARLINGTON – The Darlington Community School Board of Education denied six land petitions at their board meeting Monday, Feb. 19, from residents in the town of Kendall who were petitioning to leave the school district and join the Belmont School District.
Abner S. Allgyer, Elam B. Allgyer, Micah Bahr, Bryan Brown, Ronald Westemeier and Greg White made the petitions. All except White were present at the meeting. Each gave a statement as to why they should be let out. The statements involved not having children in the district, having their children already open enrolling in Belmont, making the territorial lines even and tax increase due to the referendum.
Much of the reasoning behind the denial was because the school district could look about $1.6 million of value from the district, according to school board president, Aaron Wolfe.
“It would decrease our revenue limit about $10,000 a year. What we levy for property taxes might go down. By letting these parcels out of the district, that tax burden would falls on the rest of the district. It also would increase mil the rate. We would be increasing taxes everyone remaining in the district just by letting those parcels go,” Wolfe explained.
Wolfe also mentioned of the factors that the board was required by state statues to consider when denying or granting, only one that would make sense was making the territory contiguous. The lands addressed are nicknamed “The Thumb” of the district, because the parcels stick out from the rest of the district. District Administrator Denise Wellnitz commented that family that owned that land 60 years ago opted to move into the Darlington Community School District and it was been that way ever since.
Board member RJ Brunkow agreed with Wolfe stating that, “it doesn’t make sense to give up valuation without getting some in return.”
Micah Bahr felt it was unfair that the district was lumping all the petitions together.
“My valuation is about $140,000. That is like a gnat for the whole amount. I came in as an individual and want to be judged as an individual,” Bahr argued.
Westemeier agreed that his valuation would be able the same at Bahr’s
“I don’t see a difference in merit between your petition and the others. If we approve one, we pretty much have to approve them all and if we deny one then we deny them all. Who is going to define what is a significant amount. If we allow this now and have more petitions in the future, at what point do we change our mind and start denying them?” Wolfe rebutted.
Joe Riechers asked Bahr what his benefit was if the school district granted his request.
Bahr answered that a Belmont School bus goes by his place and drops off his relatives.
“Well Darlington would too if there were kids out there. I have three milk trucks that go by my place and I don’t have nay cows; perhaps I should petition to become a dairy farmer,” Riechers disputed
Nick Zuberbuhler asked why they did not make this petition earlier.
Bahr mentioned he didn’t know they could.
Westemeier said, “Last I knew, you had to find land of equal value to trade. My wife and I would have done this 15 years ago when our kids started at Belmont.”
The reason, Bahr said, that they found out they could petition came when they went to their board of review to discuss the increase in taxes they had after the referendum passed in August 2016.
Wolfe explained the issue with the Town of Kendall’s tax increase. The increase after 2015 was due to the states equalized value of the Town of Kendall changing. The changing of the portion of Kendall into the Darlington School District increased 26 percent, an increase of $1 million. Kendall became a bigger part of the district so their tax burden increased.
“The entire part of Kendall in our district went from $35,000 in tax levy to $52,000 in tax levy divided up between all the people in Kendall and Darlington. That is part of the increase. There are three factors: the equalized value, the referendum and any improvements done to the property,” Wolfe clarified.
Wolfe added that the equalized value and any improvement taxes would go with anyone if they chose to go to another district.
“I would be happy to talk to Belmont and find ways to improve that. I’m not sure how realistic it is but I am willing to do that,” Wolfe ended.
Brunkow added that the opportunity to petition to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is there.
Bahr mentioned that he had already spoken with DPI and feels he has a pretty good chance at petitioning with the state.
The Darlington Community School Board of Education also approved/accepted from their Feb. 12 and Feb. 19 meetings:
-Jacky Bergeson’s request to resign as the 8th Grade Volleyball Coach and the DHS Cheerleading Advisor.
-a donation from the Hirsbrunner Family of $374.47 for a bench honoring George Hirsbrunner.
-a donation from the Fund “Fully Funded” in the amount of $20,252.94 for a new Pole Vault Pit (mat and standards).
-a two year co-op agreement with Monroe High School for Boy’s Hockey.
-a donation from the Class of 1951 of $25 to the football account within the Student Activity Fund in memory of Jack Teasdale.
-Donald Glindinning’s estate’s donation of 20% of a Mass Mutual contract, valued at $78,000.
-Haily McGowan as a volunteer DHS Track and Field Coach.
-Paul Raley as a volunteer DHS Track and Field Coach.
-Cassandra Bonin as a volunteer DHS Assistant Girls Softball Coach.
-reselling the Pole Vault equipment (mat and standards) for $2500 or best offer.
-using Marcy Funds to purchase 20 iPads and 10 Macbooks for DEMS for $15,665
-the trade of the Bobcat for a new Bobcat for $950.
-DHS Student Athletes attending Kansas Relays in Lawrence, Kan.
-a FMLA request was approved.
-the salary for the Forensic Judges at $75.