South Williamsport School Board votes to seek exception to Act 1 tax index; picks new member

The South Williamsport Area School Board voted unanimously to seek an exception to the Act 1 index while at the same time cautioning residents this does not mean they plan to raise taxes for the next fiscal year.

The original Act 1 index of 3.2 percent or .5 mills would yield an additional $184,000 in revenue for the district. By seeking an exception, the board is asking to raise taxes, if needed, up to .53 mills which would bring in $195,000 in additional revenue.

This would in turn equal about a $53 increase in taxes for each $100,000 of a property’s assessed value. The current tax rate for district residents is 15.75 mills.

According to the board, the fund balance at the beginning of the current school year with a fund balance of a little over $1.3 million and the district had budgeted for a deficit of $479,000.

One area of the budget that has increased is Cyber School costs. The board noted that for outside enrollment, they had budgeted for 15 regular education students and two special education students. The district currently has nine more than budgeted in regular education and four in special education, with a projected $203,000 over budget.

The Public School Employees Retirement costs increased from 33.43 percent to 34.29 percent. The district is also anticipating a 4 percent increase in health insurance costs.

Under Act 1 districts cannot raise property taxes above the index unless they qualify for an exception. South Williamsport is applying for an exception based on the increase in special education costs. They cited increases in salaries, health insurance and PSERS as well as a bill for English as a second language students assisted by BLaST Unit among other items.

It was noted at the meeting that the board has sought exceptions eight times in the last 12 years, but actually only used the exceptions to raise taxes above the index two times.

In other business the board approved Todd Engel to fill the position left vacant by the resignation of Sue Davenport. Engel’s term will run until the end of this year.

Board members present were: Christ Branton, Gregg Anthony, Nathan Miller, Airneezer Page, Sue Bowman, Steve Persun, Erica Molino and Cathy Bachman.