Administration adjusts budget; 1.96 percent tax hike proposed

MILL HALL — There was some good news for property owners at Thursday night’s Keystone Central school board’s work session.

The proposed 2019-2020 budget, which featured a tax increase of 2.49 percent has been adjusted. The budget — in its current form — features a tax increase of 1.96 percent.

According to Keystone Central School District superintendent Jacquelyn Martin, the drop became possible through a retirement and re-arranging the Central Mountain Middle School schedule.

“There was an additional professional position, someone who had requested retirement late. The board looked at that request and is going to grant that request. When you take a look a the retirement benefits … that money is now in there, along with another support staff position that we are not going to fill,” Martin explained.

As for the adjustment of the Central Mountain Middle School day, Martin said that it made perfect sense.

“There was a process where the teacher day and the student day was not aligned and we had some additional staff coming into to monitor students in the morning. So by re-arranging the middle school schedule, we not only eliminated the need to pay for staffing in the morning, but we also increased instructional hours for students by 72 hours at the middle school and we decreased non-instructional time by 15 minutes per day,” Martin said. “That’s where the difference came from in the last 30 days.”

The millage rate for the 2019-20 budget looks like this: Centre County (46.24), Clinton (13.52) and Potter (43.14). If the budget is adopted at next week’s voting session, Centre County would see a 1.05 percent hike, Clinton County the aforementioned 1.96 percent and Potter County would see a minuscule 0.37 percent increase in property taxes.

For the median homeowner, the tax increase amounts to: $51.12 in Centre County, $27.69 in Clinton County and $17.04 in Potter County.

Martin, who began on Feb. 1, was pleased with the proposed budget.

“We’re in the black for the first time in seven years on the budget,” she said, “and we don’t have to touch the fund balance.”

For 2019-20 , the KCSD budget sits at $74,363,531 in expenses and $74,366,866 in revenue, leaving $3,335 in surplus. The fund balance will sit at $9,721,443.

School board vice-president Roger Elling thanked Martin for her tireless work on the budget.

“Thank you for being able to bring this down so we aren’t taking the tax hike to the max. I think it’s a really good job. You’ve only been here a short time,” Elling said. “The fact that we have this down to 1.96 (percent) is really something to be proud of. Thank you for your time and effort.”

Board member Charlie Rosamilia pointed out that the tax increase will amount to a little more than seven cents per day.

The board will look to adopt the 2019-20 budget at next week’s voting session at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 20 in the high school auditorium.