Paying down some existing debt this year will help reduce an expected property tax increase next year, according to information shared with members of the Barron Area School Board at its regular monthly meeting Monday, May 18, 2020.

In a “virtual meeting” held via audio hookup, the board agreed to pay off $800,000 of a $4.5 million promissory note issued in 2017 to raise funds to improve Barron High School.

The money has helped to pay for major improvements to the high school shop, ag and music departments, and related areas.

The goal of the refinancing is to minimize the local tax increase next year, now projected at a mill rate of .075 percent, according to a report from Andrew Sloan, director of finance.

“The goal is to be … as financially responsible (as possible) to our taxpayers by (limiting) next year’s mill rate (increase),” the report said.

By paying off the debt earlier, the forecast is that next year’s taxes could go up by an estimated $166 for a property worth $100,000. Without retiring the debt earlier, that same property could expect a $332 increase, the report added.

Because of the school closures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the district has saved additional funds which can also be applied to next year’s budget.

Sloan said the district is trying to anticipate the negative effects that the pandemic will have on school budgets.

“Next school year, based on significantly decreased state revenues due to COVID-19 implications, we are projecting a revised biennial budget with drastic cuts to public education funding,” he said.

In other action at its regular monthly meeting Monday, May 18, 2020, the Barron Area School Board:

• Re-elected incumbent officers, including: Jeff Nelson, president; Dan McNeil, vice-president, and Kelli Rasmussen, clerk.

Board member Danette Hellmann, will succeed former member Roxie Micheels as board treasurer.

• Appointed member Brittany Stephens to represent the district for CESA-11

• Designated board members Dan McNeil and Mike Dietrich as delegate/alternate to next January’s Wisconsin Association of School Boards convention.

• Approved the resignation of two coaches, Travis Gunther, middle school volleyball, and Alex Berger, varsity boys soccer.

• Hired Brooke Halverson, varsity volleyball; Lisa Paulin, special education cross categorical teacher (actually a job transfer to Woodland Elementary School), and Trent Nelson, assistant football coach.