2015-06-27 / News

School budget passes, despite uncertainties

Property owners in Cameron County will see an increase in school taxes when bills arrive in August. School board members voted to raise the district’s tax rate by about 2.5 percent, to 43.13 mills, for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Directors had earlier approved an $11.85 million budget that increases spending by approximately $80,000 from the current year. They couldn’t reach a consensus on the tax rate.

Six votes, spanning three meetings, were taken before directors agreed to the tax hike on a 5-4 vote.

Jan Hampton, Annetta Horning, Shannon Burfield, Christine Umble and Paul Abriatis voted in favor. Robert Lininger, Sandra Shields, Dave McManigle and Marilyn Erickson dissented.

Speaking for the majority, Burfield said, “I couldn’t justify taking more programs and supplies away from our students.”

Average residential property owner in the district will pay about $21 more.

Total revenue expected to be produced from the real estate tax is $3.02 million. Earned income, realty transfer and per-capita taxes will remain unchanged and generate another $391,000. State subsidies are expected to make up much of the remainder of the budget.

Business Manager Carl Mitchell cautioned that the state’s share is a guess, since it is held hostage to the state’s own budget battle.

The district’s budget is also based on proposed changes in Pennsylvania’s cyber school funding system. Depending on how those two issues are resolved, the district could face a shortfall of as much as $400,000, Mitchell said.

Any gap would be filled from the district’s $1.12 million unassigned fund balance if needed. Mitchell also explained that the board would have the option to amend the budget if the state fails to adopt its own spending plan by a certain date.

Last month, the board voted 6-2 to transfer almost $2 million from reserves, with close to $800,000 set aside for deferred maintenance projects.

Return to top