City school board OKs tax hike, yet hopes to lower it

The Williamsport Area School Board unanimously voted to adopt a proposed final budget reflecting a tax increase of 0.41 mills during its meeting on Tuesday.

The proposed final budget is subject to change until the final budget is adopted at the June 20 meeting.

The proposed tax increase would be $41 for a home valued at $100,000. According to Jeff Richards, business administrator, the average assessed value of a home in the district is $99,182, and the proposed tax increase would be $40.66 for a home of that value.

In the adopted proposed final budget, total estimated revenue was listed at $88,436,169 and total estimated expenditures at $90,204,208. That leaves the district at a deficit of $1,768,039.

Richards said he still hopes to lower that deficit amount by the time the final budget is adopted.

Almost 60 percent of the expenditures in the proposed budget go toward instruction while support services and other costs such as transportation and buildings and grounds take up the rest.

Richards said the expenditure budget increased by $1,383,048 over the 2016-17 budget, and the revenue budget has increased by $798,417 over the 2016-17 budget.

For cost-saving measures, Richards said the district was able to save $304,501 due to the retirement of 13 professional employees and $158,579 by reducing two teaching positions.

While the district applied for exceptions to go above the Act 1 Index, Richards said it is not considering going over the Act 1 Index, which would mean having a tax increase of over 0.55 mills. The district was able to keep costs down, so there is no plan to go beyond the Act I Index as was originally thought in February.

In other business, the board also unanimously approved Linda M. Vaughn as a food service worker at $9 an hour and Melissa R. Karichner as a substitute administrative support aide at $9 an hour. Athena G. Leathers was approved in the same vote as full-time custodian at the high school at the base wage rate of $39,000.

Voting yes were members Patrick Dixon, Lori Baer, Jerene Milliken, Scott Williams, Jennifer Lake, Dr. Jane Penman, Dr. Nancy Story Somers, Spencer Sweeting and Dr. Robin Knauth.

The next meeting will be 6 p.m. May 16.