York County homeowners could face higher property tax increases in 2014-15 based on tax caps announced by the state Department of Education this month.
The caps, which are determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, average 2.6 percent for York County school districts.
For the 2013-2014 tax year, the average was 2.1 percent.
Tim Eller, spokesman for the department, said the increase was because of changes in factors used to determine the tax caps.
Eller said the state's tax cap formula is based on the index of average weekly wages across the state and an employment cost index, which measures the cost of employing school personnel.
Eller said both increased since last year's tax caps were established.
Those tax caps limit how much a school district can raise property taxes for the next school year, unless it seeks voter approval or exceptions from the state.
Those exceptions are only permitted for expenses beyond the district's control, such as pension increases. If a school district is granted exceptions, it can raise the millage rate higher than the tax cap.
The cost: The impact of the tax cap varies by district.
In York City, for example, the tax cap for next year is 3.4 percent.
If the school board raised taxes by that amount, the property tax rate would increase from 33.7 mills to 34.85 mills and the tax on a home assessed at $100,000 would go to $3,485 from $3,370, a $115 increase.
The York Suburban School District has the lowest tax cap at 2.1 percent. A tax increase of that amount would take the property tax rate from 21 mills to 21.44 mills. For a person with a $150,000 home, the property tax rate would go from $3,150 to $3,216, an increase of $66.
Reaction: The Dallastown Area School District is hoping to keep the same tax rate as last year, said Donna Devlin, the district's business manager.
"We're going to strive for that this year," she said.
Devlin said budget factors like increasing pension rates affect every school district, but she said actions like Dallastown's modified job freeze will hopefully be enough to account for the difference. Right now, Dallastown is not replacing teachers who leave the district.
Devlin also said the district would not be filing for exceptions to cover any deficits in the budget.
Jason Young, business manager at Northern York County School District, said the district plans to stay within the tax cap limits.
"There really is no appetite to go for exceptions," Young said.
Young said it's too soon in the planning process to know for sure if the district will raise taxes by the maximum allowed by the cap.
But, he said, the district has the lowest millage rate in the county. He said the school board works to maintain respect in the community for proper stewardship of the budget.
Young said certain factors could affect whether the district goes to the full cap. Northern needs to account for rising pension costs, which will increase by 4.5 percent next year.
Young also said health insurance costs and the budget for students with special needs could affect how much of the 2.6 percent increase is used.
Young said the exact amount property taxes will be raised next year will be determined during the budget meetings, which typically happen in late February or March.
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