Montoursville approves budget with tax hike

Montoursville Area School Board Tuesday night approved a $30 million budget for next year that includes a real estate tax increase of 0.30 mills.

The tax hike means a $30 higher annual bill for homeowners whose properties are assessed at $100,000.

Property taxes are expected to bring in about $11.7 million, according to district business manager Brandy Smith.

To help balance the budget, nearly $300,000 is being used from the fund balance.

The fund balance by the end of the next fiscal year is estimated at about $3.3 million.

The tax increase brings the district’s overall millage to 15.70.

The vote to approve the budget and tax hike was 7-2.

Voting yes were William Ruffing, Scott Konkle, Susan Beery, Dave Shimmel, Robert Logue, Dottie Mathers, and Jennifer Mathers.

Voting no were Ronald Snell and Daniel Albert.

Snell said he had problems supporting a tax hike when so many residents on fixed incomes are struggling to make ends meet.

He noted that the district has raised real estate taxes in eight of the past 10 years.

Ruffing said he agreed with Snell that residents need a break from higher taxes, but pointed out that many districts are facing the same costs.

“The last thing I want to do is raise taxes,” he said.

Albert said he had a different reason than Snell for voting against the budget, but would not elaborate.

The board took action on a number of personnel matters.

Hannah Swartwood was hired as an elementary teacher at a salary of $45,330.

The board hired Jimi Sue Wodrig as secretary at an hourly rate of $12.84.

The board approved AmTrust North America to provide workers compensation coverage at a cost of $43,565 from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. was approved for insurance coverage at a cost of $89,104 and Bollinger Specialty Group for student accident coverage at a cost of $20,774.

In other matters, several residents asked the board to consider replacing the varsity girls softball coaching staff.

Jack McCarthy said the coaches are failing to properly prepare the players for competition.

“The problem I have is the direction the program is going,” he said. “Pick a new coaching staff.”

John Klotz called for a “serious evaluation of the softball program.”

Another person said the program is losing players to other schools. He noted that it was difficult for the program to even field a jayvee team.

Others threw their support behind the program.

John Mazzante, former Montoursville athletic director, said he hired head coach Mike Tate a number of years ago.

“I hired him because of his knowledge of the game,” he said. “You can’t let parents dictate the program.”

Robert McCullough noted his daughter learned values and a good work ethic playing for Tate several years back.

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