The Central York School Board voted Monday to adopt a preliminary $80 million budget, but the district still faces a $3.9 million deficit.
Before the 8-1 vote, Michael Snyder, the lone "no" voter, said he wants more information on how the district would use its reserve fund toward the deficit and how those funds are designated.
"What happens two or three years from now if we spend the reserves now?" he asked. "I need answers."
Closing the gap: The board also voted 6-3 to ask the state Department of Education for permission to raise taxes above its 2.6 percent tax cap to help the district close the deficit gap.
Gregory Lewis, Michael Snyder and Anne Kahlbaugh voted against the measure. Lewis said he would rather use money from the reserve fund balance for the deficit.
"I know we like to have (the reserve fund) for a rainy day," Lewis said. "But on the other hand, it's the taxpayers' money and we got it. When are we going to spend it? I think we got a pretty good pot sitting there, and if need be, we could use that."
Rising costs: Exceptions to the tax cap 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. If the district receives permission to use the exceptions, the board could potentially raise property taxes by 4.6 percent, or about $123 on a property valued at $150,000.
A tax hike of 2.6 percent would amount to $69 on a property assessed at $150,000.
For the school district, the difference between a 2.6 percent and a 4.6 percent tax increase would be an additional $1 million in revenue. That's on top of the estimated $1.4 million from the 2.6 percent hike, District Business Manager Brent Kessler has said.
The district's current millage rate is 17.76.
Another option: Applying for the exceptions gives the board another option for closing the $3.9 million budget gap and to be prepared for funding issues that stem from the state budget, said board member Timothy Bieber.
"This is the third consecutive year we filed for exceptions, but I don't plan to use them," he said.
The school board would still need to vote to use those exceptions, even if the state Department of Education grants them.
Another budget: The board also voted to approve the $21.9 million 2014-2015 operating budget for the York County School of Technology.
Central York is projected to have 91 full-time and 21 part-time students at the school of technology for the 2014-2015 school year.
Central York's school of technology costs will increase $25,000, going from $985,000 this school year to $1.01 million for 2014-2015, Kessler said. The new cost has been built into Central York's overall budget for next school year, he said.
--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.