Dover Area School Board took an extensive portion of its meeting Monday to decide whether raising taxes by as much as allowed was worth the taxpayer tradeoff.
The tax difference is marginal, numerically speaking: The board was split whether to raise property taxes 1.9 percent, right at Dover's state cap, or 2.3 percent, using a special exception.
It's the difference of about $100,000 in property tax revenue.
It's the difference of about $8 in taxes for a $100,000 homeowner.
Dover, in a 5-3 vote, decided to take the revenue while it can and pass on the $8 extra to taxpayers.
Dover's $53 million 2012-13 budget will now include a 21.00 mill rate, up 0.47 mills from the 20.53 mill rate this year or 2.3 percent.
Even with an above-the-cap increase, Dover is using about $1.4 million of its fund balance, according to business manager Belinda Wallen. That will leave Dover with about $2 million left in its surplus that hasn't already been assigned for something, a thought that had some board members leery and convinced them the extra $100,000 in revenue could help, even if it's marginally.
"It hardly makes any sense not to have money," set aside, said board member Christy Rehm.
"We don't want to end up like York City," added Julie Ann Emig.
Board member Bryan Rehm, though, said he couldn't vote for the maximum, saying the district would get locked in at that higher tax rate going into the following year, and then "it snowballs."Julie Emig, board president Phil Herman, Bernadette Reinking and Kristen Ventre said yes the first time the 2.3 percent tax hike version of the budget was voted on, with Terry Emig, Bryan Rehm, Christy Rehm and Dan Sindlinger all voting in favor of the 1.9 percent version; Rob McIlvaine was absent.
Christy Rehm switched to yes the second time around after the board discussed the advantages of having the extra revenue. Reinking, in defending the maximum tax hike, said in many recent years Dover hasn't gone to the max and she's worried assessment appeals will drain district revenue.
"One-hundred thousand dollars is going to mean a lot of money," Reinking said of the benefits of a 2.3 percent tax hike versus 1.9 percent.
The district is also dealing with a nearly 13 percent hike in insurance costs, about a $653,000 increase.
Dover also went through with its proposal to eliminate paid assistant athletic coaches. But the overall staff, which had 11 retirees this year, will get an additional three intermediate school teachers to help deal with enrollment changes.
The board also decided to keep its per capita tax, which costs any taxpayer 18 and older $10. The nuisance tax is an ordeal to collect, and the administration said it may not be worth collecting, but board member Bryan Rehm said the district can't pass up the $100,000 in revenue for now.
A music teacher position was left vacant as previously proposed, which means music lessons and some sections of music could be cut, according to the district.
Meal on your dime:Dover also approved a 10-cent hike for all school meals. The move was made to help comply with federal mandates, as the government is pushing for an increase in meal prices.
The increased cost is meant to bump local food service revenues and decrease the dependency on federal subsidies, Wallen said. Elementary lunch price will be $2.30 and secondary lunch price will be $2.40 this fall, each up a dime. The same will likely happen again the following year, Wallen said.
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