Valley Grove planned budget contains another tax increase

Valley Grove School District is looking at a possible tax increase for the 2023-24 school year, which would mark the second consecutive year for a hike.

During the school board’s work session meeting Monday, Business Administrator Jon Stewart said the proposed budget contains a tax increase equal to the Act 1 Index of 6% established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

If the tentative budget is approved at the board’s meeting next week, the rate would increase to 12.8437 mills.

Stewart’s presentation to the board said benefits (such as health insurance and the state retirement pension costs), special education costs and cyber charter tuition are driving the increase.

On Tuesday, Stewart provided clarity to the newspaper by saying mandated costs have “outpaced our aid” and is the primary reason for the proposed tax hike, and that the school district is trying to keep up with costs.

An increase in taxes would mean a $100,000 home, for example, would cost the homeowner an additional $72.70.

Through the Taxpayer Relief Act, the average qualifying taxpayer would receive an additional $7.90.

Although there is a tax increase in the proposed budget, a portion of that is offset through the Homestead Farmstead Exclusion.

The proposed budget includes an anticipated expenditure budget of $18,458,981 and revenues of $16,648,318, which will require the use of $1,810,663.

As to other budgetary options in lieu of raising taxes, Stewart on Tuesday told the newspaper, “I think we’re kind of doing that in conjunction with making cuts. There weren’t any programming cuts or any staff reduction. We’re just working to reduce the overall budget where we’re able to.

“There’s no other choice” (aside from raising taxes) “because of the lack of state funding.”

Even with the tax increase, the district still has the lowest millage in the county, according to Stewart’s presentation to the board.

When taxes were raised last year, it was the first time the district had done so in six years.

Other business

An increase to the HVAC contract to replace one large return grille in the high school gymnasium was discussed. There will be a $3,581 increase to the contract if the board approves the contract increase during Monday’s regular school board meeting at Valley Grove Elementary School.