Dallastown district raises taxes to limit
The Dallastown Area school board approved a final 2017-18 budget that includes the highest tax increase possible under a cap set by the state.
The board voted 5-3 on June 15 to adopt the $104.3 million budget that will hike property taxes by 3.2 percent.
The increase will raise the millage rate from 22.93 mills to 23.66 mills, adding about $110 in taxes annually for a home assessed at $150,510 — the average assessment in the district.
The budget includes several position changes, including shifting some full-time positions to part time.
Several paraprofessional positions were either reduced or eliminated, saving the district approximately $148,000, according to a list of budget highlights.
A $72,000 deficit was covered by the school’s fund balance.
The district maintains a healthy unassigned fund balance, projecting $8.3 million to be in its coffers by the July 1 start of fiscal year 2018. That figure represents 8 percent of its total budgeted expenditures.
Board concerns: Before the vote, board member Michael Noll said he would vote against the budget because he felt the district does not cut back enough to spare taxpayers.
“The burden’s solely on the taxpayer, and I’m not happy about it,” he said.
Noll said the district’s to-the-max tax increase — the second year in a row — is attributed to insubstantial cuts to expenses.
The state Department of Education assigns tax caps to every school district each year, based on a number of factors, including the average weekly wages across the state and the employment cost index, which measures the cost of employing school personnel.
Fellow board member Kenneth Potter proposed an amendment to the budget, changing the property tax increase from 3.2 percent to 3 percent. Potter said the change was mostly symbolic.
“We should not be going to the maximum limit,” he said.
Fellow board member Sue Heistand voted for the amendment but had reservations about its effectiveness.
She said the savings to taxpayers would “compound the problem,” since the funds were not paid for by cuts or by taxes, but she was opposed to the maximum tax increase.
“I just can’t do it,” Heistand said.
The amendment failed after a tie vote.