The state tax cap that limits how much school districts can raise property taxes will remain the same for the next school year.
The tax cap -- created in 2006 by lawmakers to rein in property tax increases -- stayed exactly the same for every York County district for the 2013-14 school year and averages 2.1 percent.
The county's average cap has ranged from as low as 1.7 percent in 2011-12 to 5.4 percent in 2008-09.
Knowing the cap helps districts plan their budgets. They must decide by January whether they want to seek exceptions to possibly go above that cap or resolve to stay under it. The cap is tied to inflation-related factors.
With the cap staying level, school districts with rising expenses will need to find a way to once again get under the threshold through budget cuts. Several business managers seem pessimistic about the prospect of more state funding coming to buoy their budgets.
The average York County property tax hike this year was 2.3 percent, just above the average tax cap. But that tax hike average was pulled up by York City's 8.5 percent tax increase. Most districts were under or right around 2 percent, with Central and Dallastown not having a tax hike.
'Deal with it': At Red Lion, business manager Terry Robinson said his district won't arbitrarily raise taxes to its 2.3 percent cap just because it's allowed. Using some surplus will likely be discussed, he said. Enrollment is not projected to go up next year, which helps with expenses, but the stagnant economy won't help, he added.
The South Eastern School Board already decided it wants the district to seek exceptions to go above its 2.2 percent cap in 2013-14. But Superintendent Rona Kaufmann emphasized that decision is only "as a safety net" and the preference is to have no tax increase.
With health insurance, pension contributions and salaries going up, Kaufmann said it's a struggle to deal with limited increases in tax revenue. A hike in state funding would be most beneficial, she said, but she doesn't see that happening.
Instead, there's the perpetual problem of needing to raise taxes to meet expenses, which can lead to some struggling people losing their homes, which means fewer people contributing to the tax base, she said.
"It gets to a breaking point for many people," Kaufmann said.
Spring Grove went right up to its 2.1 percent cap this year. Business manager George Ioannidis said all districts can do is "deal with it" when it comes to the caps and rising expenses.
He expects they will apply for exceptions again just in case.
"We're still scrutinizing all our programs" for savings, Ioannidis said.
-- Reach Andrew Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org