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Hampton school board votes not to raise taxes above Act 1 index

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Taxes might go up in the Hampton Township School District next year, but not above the Act 1 index.

The school board last week voted not to exceed the index, which establishes the maximum tax increase for each district without applying for an exception from the state Department of Education or seeking voter approval.

There is a $904,000 shortfall in the $44.5 million preliminary budget.

Board member Gail Litwiler said district officials have worked hard not to increase taxes for the past two years, but it might be inevitable this year.

Under the Act 1 index, officials may increase the millage by up to 2 percent to generate about $535,000. A property owner with a home assessed at $100,000 would pay about $43 more per year.

The millage rate is 21.35 mills. Officials have until June to adopt a final budget.

“These are not what I would project to be the actual numbers,” said Jeff Kline, director of administrative services.

“This is more done based on projections, historical increases and the early retirement incentive out there.”

District officials have not finalized staffing needs, and funding the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) also continues to be a concern.

The PSERS rate is projected to reach more than 30 percent of district wages by 2024. The rate will cost more than $5 million for the district, officials project.

“The numbers keep getting worse every year they do this,” Kline said.

Three years ago, the district created the $4.4 million stabilization fund to help offset Hampton's annual contribution rate over the next 10 years.

Last week, the board approved the transfer of $2 million into the fund to extend the funding through the 2025-26 school year. Administrators plan to use $418,000 of the fund to help balance the 2013-14 budget.

“It really will help us,” Kline said. “It helps every year to balance or partially balance the budget. It is certainly going to make it easier to balance future budgets, that was the purpose of this.”

District officials hope to receive more figures on state funding, after the release of Gov. Tom Corbett's budget; and from the county, after the reassessment appeals process.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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