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State College Area School Board OKs Final 2018-19 Budget, Tax Increase

by on June 12, 2018 12:05 AM

State College Area School Board on Monday approved a final 2018-19 budget, including a 2.4 percent property tax increase.

The board voted 8-0 to approve the budget, with board member Laurel Zyndey absent.

Equal to the state's Act 1 index tax limit for the district, the tax increase brings the millage rate to 45.206. The average residential taxpayer will see a tax increase of $85 for the year.

The budget includes $158,873,467 in expenses, a 4.4 percent increase from 2017-2018, and $158,110,347 in revenue, a 5.2 percent increase from the last year.

Among expenses, the budget includes $2.3 million for new programs. Changes to the elementary school day, approved in December, account for $1.47 million of those costs. The changes extended the school day for elementary students, adding instruction time and additional curricula. Middle schools and the high school also will shift to a later start time.

For the new student day, the bulk of the costs are for staffing, with the addition of 7.8 full-time equivalent teachers and paraprofessionals at a total of about $1.06 million. Non-recurring costs associated the new student day include $414,573 for transportation and curriculum.

Other new costs include $250,174 for primary autistic support staffing, security services and resource officer ($76,000) and the addition of an elementary school teacher ($80,651) and counselor ($80,651), among others. A new math curriculum for elementary schools will incur a non-recurring $170,000 increase in the curriculum budget over the current year.

Salaries ($69.7 million) and benefits ($42.8 million) combined make up 71 percent of expenses in the budget. Debt service and capital expenses total $18.6 million, including $5.25 million for State High project referendum debt service payments and the transfer of $1.935 million in anticipated state grant revenue to the Capital Projects Fund to cover some of the high school construction.

Eighty percent of revenue ($126.4 million) comes from local sources, with 19 percent from the state and 1 percent from federal. For local revenue, a $4.75 million increase over 2017-18 is budgeted, with $3.7 million from real estate taxes. Most of the remainder will come from earned income tax and tuition from the expansion of the district’s after-school program.

State revenue of about $30.5 million is an increase of $3.1 million over last year.

Breakfast and Lunch Prices

Elementary and middle school lunches will see a 5 cent increase for 2018-19, with elementary school lunches to cost $2.65 and middle schools to cost $2.90. High school lunches remain the same at $3.50.

Breakfasts will increase by 10 cents to $1.45 for elementary and $1.95 for secondary schools.

Supplemental Property Tax Rebate Program

The district's Supplemental Property Tax Rebate Program will continue for a fourth year. 

The program provides tax relief for eligible households in the district and the maximum annual rebate is $650. To qualify, a resident must be a homeowner and household income cannot exceed $35,000 per year, with half of social security income excluded from the calculation. The claimant or his or her spouse must be 65 or older, a widow or widower 50 or older or a person with a disability 18 or older. Claimants also must have been awarded a rebate from the state property tax rebate program.

As in the past two years, $100,000 is budgeted for the program.

Eligible households with a maximum income of $8,000 can receive the maximum rebate of $650. For $8,001 to $15,000 the rebate is $500. Households with $15,001 to $18,000 are eligible for a $300 maximum rebate, and from $18,001 to $35,000 the maximum rebate is $250.

 



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at geoff.rushton@statecollege.com or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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