Small tax increase expected in Muncy

MUNCY – The Muncy School Board unanimously approved a proposed final budget for the 2013-14 academic year that raises property tax rates 2.2 percent, from 13 mills to 13.28 mills, at their meeting Monday night.

The tax increase, which must be granted final approval at the board’s next meeting on June 24, is the most the district can raise rates under the Act 1 index without going to a referendum.

The average district home assessed at about $109,000 will have its taxes go up by $31 if the increase goes through, district Business Manager David Edkin said.

The extra funds – the tax should raise about $135,000 more in a total budget of just more than $15.575 million – are needed to fund Muncy’s increased contribution to the Pennsylvania public school employees’ retirement system (PSERS), according to Edkin.

The district’s PSERS contribution is about $160,000 next year, and the district administration expects that number to keep growing.

“They’re talking about 3- and 4-percent jumps every year through 2025,” Edkin said. “It’s going to grow, grow, grow.”

Board member Bill Schneck asked Edkin if the district could use some unexpected funds from real estate sales in this past year to avoid raising taxes.

“Those (real estate) funds get rolled into the fund balance,” Edkin said. “We’re using a good amount for nonrecurring expenditures, like renovations and site work at the elementary school. It’s prudent practice to only use that fund balance for nonrecurring projects, or you can deplete your balance to a dangerously low level.”

The board also passed the 2013-14 collective bargaining agreement by a 7-1 vote. The contract has a 2.95 percent increase in the professional salary scale, right on the county average, for a total of $142,000.