On Wednesday, the Schuilkil Haven School Board, splitting 5-4, voted against the proposed budget for 2022-2023 of $ 22.5 million, which would include a 4.8% tax increase, the highest for the state but members eventually agreed to a smaller increase.
The tax increase this year will be the first for the district in five years.
Tax increases have been proposed to help balance budget deficits, mainly caused by rising staff and pension costs as well as rising cyber charter costs, said Superintendent Dr Sean Fitzpatyk.
Even with the maximum increase of $ 1.68 million, the deficit will still need to be balanced at the expense of the county of about $ 6 million, said business chief Kimberly Amprey.
Voting for the 4.8% increase was split in the middle: board members Eric Felty, Bad Rankle, Dion Fessler and board president Scott Jacoby voted in favor, while Diana McGoy, Melissa Strouch, Crystal McGarry, Sandy Hess and Julie Whisner voted against.
During the discussion before the vote, council members opposing the proposal expressed concern that the public would see the state’s maximum tax increase as a step to cover the cost of a new $ 30 million 30,000-square-foot indoor sports complex.
“I agree that we need a tax increase, I’m just not comfortable giving it to our taxpayers now,” – said Hess.
Members of the council, who opposed the maximum tax increase, asked to reduce the rate by 2.4% to 3%.
“I can’t tell you how many people told me, ‘Taxes will go up, there’s a new building,'” McGary said, “and we’ve never raised taxes to the state’s maximum.”
McGoy worried that the revaluation of county property, which is set to begin in 2023, could also increase tax bills for many residents.
Supporters of the board, who support this, said that the maximum increase in the single tax is designed to prevent small annual population increases.
Fessler and Rankle said public perceptions of tax increases would always be negative, no matter the circumstances.
Jacobi said that while there is never a good time to raise taxes, he has supported a maximum increase if it means maintaining the quality of Schuylkill’s Haven programs, staff and public funds.
“We don’t understand how lucky we are in this county,” Jacoby said. “We have areas nearby that are on the verge of bankruptcy… ».
Fitzpatyk noted that the county has postponed tax increases through the COVID-19 pandemic, cutting jobs through retirement and part-time work, as well as funding from the U.S. Rescue Plan.
“We are expanding the curriculum with our STEM offerings (science, engineering, technology and math) … we have just agreed on a contract with a teacher I am very proud of, but it is about price,” Fitzpatyk said.
The maximum increase would increase district taxes by 2.04 million, for a total of 44.49 million, increasing the property tax bill of $ 100,000 by $ 204 per year.
Amprey has announced an increase in funding for tax breaks State law on farmstead / farmstead may reduce this bill by 2,221 eligible facility object.
The total manor / manor allowance for the district would be $ 269 if the maximum tax increase were approved, Amprey said, adding that at a lower rate it would be slightly lower.
After the vote, board members who supported and opposed the maximum increase discussed what an acceptable tax increase would be, and finally stopped at a 3.5% increase.
“Don’t feel guilty about having some of the nicest facilities in the state because you welcome their use,” Fitzpatyk said after the vote, “when you run into people on the street and they say,‘ Oh, you have to have been building this gorgeous new building, ”you can also say that people are dying to move to your school district because of your beautiful facilities”.
An extraordinary meeting to approve the budget is scheduled for May 19 at 18.00