Southern Tioga OKs proposed budget, tax hike

BLOSSBURG – The Southern Tioga School Board voted to approve its $29 million 2014-15 budget Monday, but it wasn’t unanimous.

Board member John Ritter was the sole vote against the budget, which raises taxes to the state limit of 2.8 percent plus exceptions in the amount of $223,000 for a total of 4.8 percent.

“I understand we don’t have time to work out every detail of additional expenditure savings we can find, but this additional 2 percent tax is going to hurt a lot of people. I think it’s important that we watch out for the taxpayers and try to minimize this tax hike to just the index amount,” Ritter said before the vote.

The proposed final budget now will go on display at the administrative building until it is adopted in a special meeting at June 11, time and location to be announced.

Among the changes made to the budget as discussed at the work session last week were the elimination of the 2 percent above state formula, saving $22,667, as well as eliminating the group II category for substitute pay scale, resulting in a $13,481 savings.

A budgetary reserve of $500,000 also was included for “unforeseen expenses,” effective next year.

Taxes will increase in Lycoming County from 14.28 mills to 14.94 mills.

In Tioga County, taxes will increase from 15.23 mills to 15.80 mills.

Mills in excess of the 2.8 percent state index for Tioga County are 0.15 mills or 3.8 percent which equals $90,000, and for Lycoming County .25 mills or 4.6 percent, equaling $20,082.

The district will pay $655,000 in Homestead exemptions.

Revenues for next year stand at $28.6 million, with expenditures expected to be $29.5 million.

The fund balance started at $4.7 million and now amounts to about $3.8 million, with nearly $3 million assigned and $1.45 million unassigned, $500,000 will comprise “rainy day” fund.

Local tax revenues make up the lion’s share of the income, $12.9 million.

The basic education subsidy from the state will be $8.3 million, and special education funding $1.2 million.

Pre-kindergarten counts grant funding will be $668,000, and transportation reimbursements from the state will be $724,836.

Money from the building reimbursement subsidy, combined with rental and sinking fund payments will be $542,000, and state accountability grants will amount to $443,500.

The state’s share for retirement contributions is $1.3 million, and for Social Security and Medicare taxes $470,000.

Earned income taxes in the amount of 1.2 percent will bring in about $2.7 million and real estate transfer taxes of .5 percent about $321,500.

Federal money of a little more than $1 million, plus other grants and reimbursements make up the rest.

Instructional costs which include salaries, benefits and programming is where most of the money goes: $18.4 million.

The district’s debt service will more than $3 million next year and the budgetary reserve of $500,000 will be set aside as well for emergency items such as boilers that could break down.

Student activities including salaries and benefits amounts to $564,874.

Support services including administration salaries and benefits is next at $522,000.