Montoursville Area School Board: Tax increase less, but still above index

Montoursville Area School Board Tuesday night approved a proposed final budget for next year that raises real estate taxes by 0.55 mills.

The tax hike represents a smaller increase than that considered last month, but remains a figure that exceeds the state Act 1 index of 3.1 percent.

School directors discussed how taxes might be further reduced to help balance the $29 million spending plan.

For now, the budget shows a deficit of $25,000, according to district manager Brandy Smith.

The tax increase would bring the district’s total millage rate to 15.4, down from 15.6 last month.

Under a real estate tax increase of 0.55 mills, property owners with homes having an assessed value of $100,000 would pay an additional $55 per year.

Overall, the spending plan is down $143,660 from last month, with reductions coming from maintenance costs and other areas of the budget.

School director Ron Snell once again asked the board to reconsider hiring a science teacher at a time when it faces budget problems.

“I’m not saying we can’t get away without a tax increase,” he said. “We got to keep it to a minimum. People can’t keep paying and paying. At least get it down to the (Act) 1 index.”

The possibility of using money from the fund balance also was discussed.

District Superintendent Christina Bason said using reserve funds to pay off the same expenses year after year simply is not a good practice.

School director Robert Logue agreed.

“In a business, retained earnings are a very good thing,” he said.

The vote to approve the proposed budget was 6-1.

Voting yes were Logue, Susan Beery, Dave Shimmel, William Ruffing, Dottie Mathers, and Scott Konkle. Snell voted no.

Jennifer Marriott was absent.

In other action, the board accepted the resignation of varsity wrestling coach Jamie Yonkin.

Jeremy Englert was approved as assistant track and field coach at a stipend of $1,500.

The board approved a contract with Campus Safety Products for $44,200.

Pamela Nelson, 225 Bennett St., asked the board to review the district’s policy on bullying.

She that perhaps harsher punishments are needed for bullies.

Ruffing told Nelson bullying is an issue that he takes seriously.

Bason said, “We are doing different things to combat it.”