The Central York school board voted Monday to file for tax exceptions that could allow the district to raise taxes by as much as 4.6 percent.
The board has filed for the exceptions every year but has used them only once since 2006, when the Act 1 property tax laws took effect, said board president Michael Wagner.
Wagner said the process is a way to make sure the board has all available resources when the members attempt to decrease the $3.9 million deficit for the 2014-2015 school year.
Board members Anne Kahlbaugh and Michael Snyder stressed that the board needs to look at creative savings -- and cuts -- that close the budget gap.
Kahlbaugh said she doesn't want to see the board get into a gridlock over which cuts to make later on during the budget discussions. Instead, she wants to see the board bring creative ideas for cost savings to the upcoming meetings.
"The taxpayers expect this," Kahlbaugh said. "It's not our money."
Snyder, the lone vote against filing for the exceptions, said the district has touted the fact that it hasn't raised taxes much in the past few years. But, he said, if the district does need to raise them to the tax cap of 2.6 percent and further for exceptions, the district is not living within its means.
"It kind of erases what we've done," Snyder said.
Board member Robert Weikert said the board does need to look at cuts earlier than it has in past years. But he said it doesn't make sense to eliminate an option to decreasing the deficit so early in the budget process.
The exceptions are approved by the state Department of Education for costs a school district cannot control. Central York qualifies for exceptions to help cover the cost of rising special-education and pension payments, which could be an additional $1 million in revenue for the district next year if the board chooses to use them.
Wagner and the board requested that the administration report back in January about what $3.4 million in program cuts would look like. The $3.4 million figure is an estimated 1 percent budget increase from the current year, Wagner said, and could give some perspective to the board about what large cuts would mean for the district.