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WASD early budget comes with tax hike; changes expected

The Williamsport Area School Board gave their approval to a proposed final budget for 2021-22 with a .53 mill increase in real estate taxes, although Wanda M. Erb, board secretary and business administrator, told the board that before the final budget is approved in June, that number should be lower.

“We will continue to work on this budget between now and June 15,” Erb said. Final budget approval must be by June 30.

Revenues in the proposed budget are expected to be $96,353,427 including using $1,992,067 in fund balance monies in order to balance the budget. Next year’s budget is a 3.24 percent increase over the budget for the current fiscal year.

Real estate taxes currently stand at 16.89 mills. The possible increase would bring the millage for district property owners to 17.42 mills adding an additional $53 per $100,000 of a home’s assessed value to real estate tax bills.

The earned income tax rate is 1.5 percent and the real estate transfer tax would remain at .5 of 1 percent for the next fiscal year.

In a breakdown of the budget, Erb said that there is a 2.5 percent increase in salaries and benefits, which included any additional positions which were approved at the board meeting. It also covers the state pension or PSSERS.

She noted that a huge expense for the district is cyber school tuition, which is expected to top out at $4 million for the current school year. That is about a 40 percent increase over the last few years, she said. Next year’s budget reflects an addition $1.6 million to cover those costs.

The budget will now be on display at the district office and on the district’s website for examination.

In other finance related items, the board approved the following bids and contracts:

• A proposal from Johnson Controls, Inc., New Cumberland, three-year agreement for the mechanical and control systems for the high school and Jackson Primary chillers, beginning July 1. First year cost, $32,575, second year, $25,821 and third year, $26,655.

• A district wide security camera system from GovConnections, Inc., Pittsburgh, for $1,132,880. The project is funded through an ESSER grant.

• The purchase of bus camera upgrades from AngelTrax, Dothan, AL in the amount of $26,182, paid through an ESSER grant.

• A proposal from Barry Isett & Associate, Mechanicsburg, to provide civil engineering services for renovations and improvements at Cochran Primary School at a base cost of $21,000 and with additional service fees not to exceed $10,000.

Under curriculum items, the board approved an agreement with the Indiana University of Pennsylvania to place a psychology intern with the district during the spring this year.

They also approved an agreement of affiliation with Penn College from July 2021 through July 2023 which will enable the college’s nursing students to accompany district school nurses to become familiar with school nursing requirements and expectations.

The next board meeting will be at 6 p.m. May 18 at the high school auditorium.

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