Preliminary South Side school budget shows 11-percent tax hike

The South Williamsport Area School Board adopted a preliminary budget on Monday night for the 2013-14 fiscal year that will require, if no changes are made, an 11.28-percent tax increase.

“We have to plug a number in to balance the budget to show the state,” said Superintendent Dr. Mark Stamm. “That’s without knowing what the state will be doing this is a fictitious document.”

“We’ve got work to do between now and June,” said district Business Manager Dennis Artley.

The preliminary budget maintains all current budget categories at their same funding levels, except for required increases in compensation, health insurance and retirement benefits.

Of the 4.7 percent, or $746,266, projected budget increase, more than half will come from contracted retirement benefits, Artley said.

Health insurance costs will increase 10 percent for the 2013-14 year.

The district’s real estate tax rate now is 13.3 mills. It will grow to 14.8 mills to help fund the preliminary budget.

“We’ll go through our normal budget process,” Stamm said. “We’ll look carefully at every single number.”

The deadline to put a referendum on November’s ballot to implement a tax increase larger than the 2.4 percent Act 1 index is March 7.

“This board has never shown an interest in doing a referendum,” Artley said. “We’ll file for exceptions the most we could really raise taxes by is six-tenths of a mill.”