The York City School District is looking at no tax increase in its 2013-14 budget just a few months after it looked as if taxes could increase substantially.
The proposed $114 million final budget, set for a vote Wednesday, June 19, is based on an assumption that more students will come back from charter schools, cutting down on charter tuition payments, and on the district receiving a loan from the state, said business manager Richard Snodgrass.
Those two measures would eliminate the need for a tax increase, which would be a welcome respite, since taxes have gone up nearly 14 percent the past two years.
"We just couldn't go there this year," said board president Margie Orr.
York City previously considered raising taxes by as much as 5.67 percent, which would add $94 to the property tax bill of a $50,000 homeowner.
With a zero tax hike, the mill rate would remain at 33.74, still the highest in York County.
"The belief here is the taxes in the city are high enough. In the long run, it's counterproductive to be raising taxes any further," Snodgrass said.
Working together: Snodgrass said he and chief recovery officer David Meckley have been working in tandem on the plan.
Meckley was appointed by the state in December to help right the district's finances and implement a financial recovery plan.
The zero-tax hike budget "represents confidence in the recovery plan to improve the district in a way that brings more eligible students back to the district over the next few years," Meckley said. "With the provisions of the recovery plan and students coming back to the district, the long-term financial condition of the district will improve."
The $11 million no-interest loan is part of that plan to help York City get out of debt in the next two years, along with improving district academics with themed magnet schools to help lure students back to city schools from charters. The district was facing a $10 million deficit next school year.
Snodgrass said the budget would also avoid program and staff cuts, another major departure from recent years in which every budget seemed to include furloughs and program reductions.
"We really are at a staffing level that we need to maintain," Snodgrass said.
Online learning: In other district financial news, York City schools are getting a $30,000 federal grant to help implement online learning programs.
The district might use the money at the high school level to help with math instruction.
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