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Red Lion's 2016-17 school budget comes with good news for the district's taxpayers: a .49 percent property tax decrease.

The budget, which was unanimously approved at Thursday night's school board meeting, did increase by 1.3 percent, resting at $88.5 million, which is $1.1 million more than last year's budget.

Yet the district was able to cut taxes because it paid off an obligation bond the district had taken out, according to school board member Joel Ogle. Once a bond is paid off, the district is obligated to give the funds that went toward that debt back to the taxpayers.

According to Ogle, the reduction means a family with a $100,000 home will see approximately $100 in savings on their school property bill in the coming year.

"It's a big deal," Ogle said of the tax decrease. "If we can maintain and not raise taxes for the next two or three years, that's hundreds of dollars in people's pockets. That's a big deal and something that I hope we can do in the future."

Tonja Wheeler, business manager for the Red Lion Area School District, was  excited about being able to give back to the district's taxpayers.

"I think that it is a tribute to our taxpayers for constantly providing for and believing in the district," she said.

Ogle also said no teachers or programs were cut when calculating the coming year's budget. The budget increase comes from the district's contribution to the Public School Employees' Retirement System, which is required to be made each year. This continually increases because of inflation and is something that all school districts that are members of PSERS must pay.

"It's not necessarily that our budget increases because of what Red Lion is doing, it's just because of the pension," Ogle explained.

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