Lower Dauphin property taxpayers will not see a tax increase for the fifth consecutive year and eight of the past nine years.
This year’s $61,220,000 budget holds the millage rate at 18.42 – which equates to a $1,842 property tax bill on a property assessed at $100,000.
When Superintendent Sherri Smith presented a first draft of the budget in December, it was $1.8 million out of balance. Through cuts in expenditures ($702,527), refinement of revenue projections ($749,266) and spending some rainy day funds, that deficit was eliminated and the district was able to avoid a tax hike for another year.
However Dr. Smith cautioned that without revenue increases or relief from mandates from the state, next year’s budget picture won’t be so rosy.
“We’re fortunate to be in a position to continue to hold the line on property taxes,” she said. “But mandated expenditures continue to increase at a greater rate than revenue is coming in.”
Comparing the proposed spending plan with the current 2015-16 budget, Dr. Smith pointed out that the new budget increases spending was $1,844,000, or roughly 3 percent. Were it not for increases in state-mandated retirement payments ($1,229,819) and medical insurance ($532,075), the new budget’s expenses increased $82,106, or fourth-tenths of a percent over the year before.
“We’re doing our part,” Dr. Smith said. “We’re keeping expenditures under control, but we are going to need help from the state to make this work long-term.”
To balance this year’s budget and pay for one-time projects like new curriculum materials, preventative maintenance at several schools and continued funding of district technology initiatives, the district is spending $1.8 million in its cash reserves.
Given the continuing uncertainty of budget negotiations at the state Capitol, Dr. Smith said Lower Dauphin did not include any increases in state funding in this version of 2016-17 budget. The district eventually received $306,108 in increased state funding during the 2015-16 school year.
“We’re hopeful that the governor and Legislature will deliver some increase in funding and relief from mandates, but we’re being realistic in our budget in case those talks become protracted beyond the June 30 deadline.”
Currently, state revenues make up a third of the district’s budget. Federal sources are another 1 percent, leaving Lower Dauphin taxpayers to make-up the remaining 65 percent.
Lower Dauphin School District Tax Rates 2016-17
|Real Estate Millage||18.42 mills|
|Earned Income Tax||1 percent of earned income|
|Occupation Tax||$250 |
|Per Capita Tax||$5|
| || |
|Lower Dauphin Budget 2016-17|