By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE — Taxes under the Selinsgrove Area School District’s 2013-14 budget will be capped at 2.2 percent due to a decision made Monday by the school board.
At a recommendation of the budget committee, the board unanimously approved a plan to limit the tax increase under next year’s spending plan to 2.2 percent, or 1.3 mills of real estate taxes. If approved, the average tax bill would rise $35.
Projections show next year’s budget will be $38.13 million, a 6 percent or $2 million increase over the 2012-13 spending plan, district Business Manager Jeffrey Hummel said.
The major sources of the increase are in state retirement expenses, which are expected to go up by 44 percent, or $950,000, to a total of $3.1 million; a 5 percent or $892,000 increase in salaries and benefits, for a total of $18.4 million; and a 16 percent increase, or $606,900, in medical insurance, for a total of $4.5 million.
By the end of this school year, Hummel said, he anticipates the district will have an $800,000 deficit. With about $300,000 offset by a proposed tax increase, it would leave the board with a $500,000 deficit that could be addressed by using a portion of the $6.8 million the district has in reserves.
Hummel advised the board it will need a healthy reserve fund as teachers are scheduled to receive increases of 3 percent to 4.5 percent over the next three years.
The 2013-14 budget will be adopted in June, but district officials are expecting budget development discussions to be smoother than they have been for the past two years as 50 staff positions have been eliminated and pay freezes have been implemented to deal with steep deficits.
“We’ve had a few years of tough budgets, cutting $2.5 million in the last two years,” Hummel said.
“There’s been a lot of pain and suffering,” board President Paul Spiegel Jr. said. “It’s much better now, but we’re not totally out of the woods yet.”