City schools won’t exceed tax-index limit

The Williamsport Area School Board unanimously approved that the district’s revenue sources will be sufficient to balance the 2018-19 school district final budget without having to exceed the Act 1 Index during its board meeting on Tuesday.

The district’s Act I Index is 3.4 percent. The Act 1 Index is the limited amount up to which a district can raise taxes. In years past, the district often applied for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index but had found it unnecessary to do so as they did not need it by the time final budget numbers were in.

“Under Act 1, we either have to have a preliminary budget presented to the board in January for adoption in February or we can do an opt out resolution, certifying that our tax rate is not going to go above the Act 1 Index,” said Jeffrey Richards, district business manager. “Since our district has never gone above the index in years past, we’re recommending that we do the opt out resolution this year saying that we will not go above the Act 1 Index for our district.”

Richards said this would give more time to prepare a more accurate budget to present to the board for action later on in the spring.

“It also means we wouldn’t be applying for any type of exception (to go above the Act 1 Index),” said Lori Baer, board president.

Richards said they will bring a proposed budget to the board some time in May.

“We have to have a proposed budget presented 30 days before we adopt the budget in June,” he said.

Dr. Timothy Bowers, superintendent, said having more time helps give a more accurate budget.

“It gives us more time to actually drill down on all those expenses,” he said. “I believe the number that we will give to you is going to be much more accurate.”

Baer said she believed the public starts to fear the district will raise taxes to some large amount because of inaccurate numbers early on, so doing it this way would be better.

“One of the frustrations is we still don’t have a state budget,” she said. “We still need to function, and we have to have ours taken care of. I think this is a positive move for districts to be able to do that.”

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

The next meeting will be 6 p.m. Dec. 5 at the District Service Center, 2780 W. Fourth St.