Hampton school tax rate could increase

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Hampton Township School District officials are waiting until June to set the final millage for the 2013-14 school year because of assessment appeals; however, they are anticipating a slight tax increase.

School districts across the county are required to “reset” their tax rate to a revenue-neutral millage to avoid a windfall of revenue from countywide reassessment; however, many properties still are under appeal, including 282 residential and commercial properties in Hampton Township.

“We have to pass a budget, and these numbers don't seem real,” school board President David Gurwin said about the current reassessment dollar amount and resulting adjusted millage. “We still have six weeks data coming in, and we can hone that number.”

School district officials are anticipating that the 2013 tax rate will be 17.2663 mills, down from 21.35 mills.

Since March, the percentage increase from the 2012 assessed property values has dropped from 30 percent to 28 percent.

Jeff Kline, director of administrative services, said he hopes to have better assessment information from the county this month.

However, even after the tax rate is readjusted to a lower rate to prevent a windfall, Hampton Township School District officials and school board members are considering the need to then raise the tax rate above the revenue-neutral rate but below the Act 1 index, which establishes the maximum tax-rate increase allowable for each school district without applying for an exception from the state Department of Education or seeking voter approval.

The $43.9 million budget includes a $763,538 deficit. The school district would have had an overall budget decrease of $34,600 however, the Public School Employees' Retirement System, or PSERS, contribution amount increased to $960,000, an increase from 12 percent of payroll to 17 percent.

District officials also anticipate a 53-percent decrease in Access funds, equal to $260,000, which provided reimbursements for money spend for health-related services for special-education students, because of a change in the reimbursement rates.

“We'll have to continue to do that (provide the special-education services to students) but we have to find the funds elsewhere,” Superintendent John Hoover said. “It's part of the reason you're seeing the shortfall in the budget; if it wasn't for that and it wasn't for PSERS, we'd be in great shape.”

School district officials will use $418,000 of the PSERS stabilization fund, which district officials created three years ago to help offset a portion of the annual PSERS contribution, and an estimated 1.4-percent tax rate increase to cover the remaining shortfall.

The projected tax rate is 17.4895 mills, which is equals a tax bill of $1,749 for a resident with a home assessed at $100,000 and $3,498 for a resident with a home assessed at $200,000.

The Hampton Township School Board will vote on the proposed final budget at its May 6 meeting at 7 p.m. in the Dr. Harold Sarver Memorial Library in the middle school at 4589 School Drive to allow for 30 days between the approval of the proposed final budget and the final budget required under state guidelines.

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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