Lower Dauphin’s 2020-2021 budget will not contain a property tax increase. This is the ninth consecutive year and 12 of the past 13 years that taxes did not increase.
The school board voted to approve the proposed spending plan on Monday, May 4, which closes a gap between revenue and expenditures with nearly $4.7 million from the district’s reserve funds.
“We don’t like to balance the budget by dipping this far into our reserves,” said Superintendent Robert Schultz. “However, we recognize that this is an extraordinary year and our homeowners are facing extraordinary circumstances and we didn’t feel it was appropriate to compound our taxpayers’ financial difficulties with a tax increase.”
The budget of $67,980,000 has a projected decline in revenue of $82,466. Local revenue sources are expected to drop $390,290 – the first such drop in recent memory. The biggest drop is in returns on district investments ($150,000) and property tax revenue is expected to decline $94,000. The district is expecting money from state and federal sources to increase from the current budgetary year by $307,824 with the bulk of that ($297,953) in state revenues projected by the Department of Education earlier this year.
On the expenditure side, the district is anticipating a 2.74 percent increase from the current fiscal year. There are five cost-drivers in the budget amounting to $1.7 million of the $1.8 million increase in spending – medical insurance, charter school tuition, pensions, special education, and maintenance.
Medical insurance is budgeted to increase $540,000 next year, a 9.87 percent increase. Charter school tuitions are budgeted at $1.46 million, a 10.19 percent. Pension payments are going up $312,466.
“These costs are all completely outside our control,” Schultz explained. “Medical insurance is based on usage and pension payments and charter school payments are both mandated by the state.”
The cost to educate students with special needs increased $474,389.
“In special education, we’re seeing more students being served within and outside the district, as well as students with more severe disabilities and again, those services are mandated by the state and federal regulations.”
Finally, the maintenance and operations budget will increase $232,384 with the completion of an HVAC project at the high school, roof work at two schools, and some other small projects.
“Even in a challenging year like this, it’s important for us to maintain our facilities to avoid larger repair costs in the future,” Schultz said.
After the board’s adoption of the proposed final budget, it will be posted online for public review. The board is expected to adopt the budget at its Monday, June 8, meeting.
Lower Dauphin School District Tax Rates 2019-2020
Real Estate Millage 18.42 mills Earned Income Tax 1 percent of earned income Occupation Tax $250 Per Capita Tax $5