School board ponders slight tax hike

Montoursville Area School District residents may be looking at a slight hike in real estate taxes in the coming year.

The school board Tuesday night got its first look at a $27 million expense budget that proposes a 0.29-millage increase and takes a significant bite out of the fund balance.

Under the plan, the millage rate would increase from 13.31 to 13.60, keeping it within the base index, which the board earlier this year agreed not to exceed.

Under the proposed tax hike, a homeowner with a property having an assessed value of $100,000 would pay an additional $29 per year in real estate taxes.

It would bring in an additional $347,293 more in revenues than raised in the present year through the same tax.

Business Manager Robert Saul noted that in addition to a tax hike, the budget plan calls for using just under $2 million from the fund balance.

“I think the challenge is finding how we can balance a budget without a tax hike,” board member Dale Ulmer said.

With more than two months until a final budget is passed, the district still may find some additional funding from state and federal sources, he added.

Board members noted that in coming years tax hikes will be all but unavoidable with continued increases in retirement funding.

Saul said some of the biggest overall increases in the budget from the present year are employee wages, $315,990; retirement, $283,500; and health insurance, $168,280.

No staff cuts are being proposed in the coming year.

District Superintendent Dr. Timothy Bowers said the overall student population has remained relatively stable in more recent years.

Overall, he said he feels pretty comfortable with the way the budget appears, while adding that the numbers certainly could change between now and June 11 when a final spending plan is scheduled to be passed.

Saul noted that the budget proposes an additional $200,000 in revenues from earned income taxes and an additional $10,000 from real estate transfer taxes.

The board is considering eliminating the $10 per capita tax, which raised $36,050 for the district this year.

The board took no action on the budget.

A vote is expected to be taken on a preliminary budget May 14.