After learning of windfall revenues of $320,000, members of the Upper Adams School Board set the stage for a budget with no tax increases on Tuesday.
Unopposed, members informally asked District Business Manager Shelley Hobbs to prepare a 2022-23 budget retaining the current property tax rate of 15.6384 mills. A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of estimated land value.
A final adoption vote is scheduled for the next regular council meeting at 7 p.m. on June 21 in the Biglerville High School (BHS) council chambers.
On May 16, members approved a draft budget containing a 1.5% tax increase as a contingency, but agreed their goal was to end up with no increase. By law, preliminary budgets can be reduced before the final vote, but not increased.
As of last month, Hobbs said he learned from Adams County officials that the district would receive $320,000 in real estate transfer tax revenue from the sale of commercial property in the district in April.
The no-tax hike budget would also include an estimated $200,000 increase in public funding for education, Hobbs said. The state requires school boards to pass their final budgets by June 30, but the state should not have determined education funding levels by then.
Thanks to the bonanza of transfer taxes, “we are still in the green” even if the financing of the State is below expectations, said the chairman of the board of directors, Tom Wilson.
Also in line with last month’s board discussions, this would include integrating the existing autism support classroom into the BHS rather than working through the Lincoln Intermediate Unit (LIU ) multi-district. Even with hiring a teacher at $115,000 annual salary and benefits, the change could result in savings of $30,000 to $118,000 next year, depending on projected fee increases to be determined. by the LIU, said Director of Student Services Anne Corwell.
It would also include approximately $25,000 to centralize student registration operations; and $38,600 for the purchase of a service contract for newly installed energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.
This would not include hiring a police officer for the district, which is estimated to cost $87,000 in the first year. The board canceled that expense last month, but Wilson on Tuesday asked Superintendent Wesley Doll to come up with a plan to improve safety and mental health, with measures that could include hiring more advisers and an officer. .
Other revenue would include nearly $1.03 million from the district’s unrestricted fund balance, which accumulates year after year as a savings account to cover large unforeseen expenses, and $60,000 from a fund set aside to meet the rising costs of the state pension program. The expenses would leave nearly $1.31 million in the first account and $171,000 in the second, according to Hobbs.
Also included is just over $1 million in state funding from gaming revenue.
Although the board is holding the line on property taxes for 2022-23, the likelihood of doing the same for 2023-24 is “close to zero,” Wilson said.
Federal pandemic dollars covered the district’s roughly $400,000 annual bill for computer rentals, but local funds will again have to cover those costs when Washington’s money dries up, he said. he declares.
Without opposition, the board approved a new collective agreement with teachers in the district.
Health benefits are to remain stable, but pay is to increase by 16.8% over the four-year term of the contract. Annual increases will vary, but will average 4.2% per year, said board finance committee chair Susan Crouse.
The district’s bargaining team met its goal of a raise that would allow for the zero hike, Wilson said.
“Both parties are happy with the results,” he said.
A significant raise was appropriate because Upper Adams’ pay scale is much lower than surrounding districts, reducing hiring efficiency, Crouse said.
A first-grade teacher’s annual salary, not including benefits, will increase from $48,921 to $51,570, she said.
The board acted in a special voting meeting following its regular committee meetings. Member Mikel Grimm was absent.
No discussion preceded the vote. The contract was discussed in non-public executive sessions, as contracts under negotiation are permitted by the state’s open meeting law, Wilson said.
Also during the special meeting, the board approved $102,911 for the replacement of the high school and college campus elevator. The cost, obtained through a statewide bidding consortium, is the “best possible,” but exceeds the budgeted $96,000 due to inflation, Hobbs said. Parts for the current elevator are unavailable due to its age, Wilson said.