Montoursville looking at modest tax increase

Montoursville Area School Board Tuesday night approved a preliminary budget for next year that hikes real estate taxes by .20 mills.

Although the vote was unanimous among school directors to increase the millage, it didn’t come without a long discussion.

Board member Dale Ulmer questioned the need for raising taxes in order to balance a $28.9 million spending plan.

He claimed the district’s reserve fund of $1.9 million could be tapped in lieu of raising the millage.

Ulmer also had argued at an earlier meeting against a tax hike.

“I am even firmer in my belief we don’t need a tax increase,” he said.

School director Dora Pioli said she felt given the economic conditions, now was not the time for raising taxes.

However, school director George Hagemeyer said a slight tax hike may help the district prepare for future expenses.

Superintendent Dr. Timothy Bowers said the millage increase included in the preliminary budget is all about building for the future.

He also noted that the tax hike will be somewhat offset by an end next year to the $10 per capita tax.

“We are in good shape,” he said. “My goal is to keep it there.”

The tax hike actually represents a slightly smaller increase than the .29 millage increase proposed earlier this year.

Business manager Robert Saul said higher than expected property assessments prompted the lower tax hike.

Under a .20 millage hike, a homeowner with a property with an assessed value of $100,000 would pay an additional $20 per year in real estate taxes.

The vote in favor of the budget was 7-0.

Ulmer, Pioli, Hagemeyer, Thomas McNamara, Ellen Stoner, James Bergen, and Jeff Schans voted in favor.

Board members Jill Kaplan and Scott Konkle were absent.

The final budget is set for approval June 11.

In other matters, the board approved the list of graduating seniors for the class of 2013. Graduation ceremonies are set for 7 p.m. June 6 at Memorial Stadium.