Small tax increase expected as West Jefferson Hills school budget takes shape
West Jefferson Hills School District leaders are sticking to a seven-year financial plan to help fund the new Thomas Jefferson High School — with a tax increase to the state-issued index slated for year seven of the plan in 2019-20.
The district’s finance director, Tracy Harris, presented a first look at the 2019-20 budget to school board members at their April 23 meeting. The early budget outlines plans to increase the tax rate by .604 mills. The 2018-19 tax rate is 20.843 mills.
“I did not go into a lot of detail because we still have a lot of changes to do on this budget,” Harris said.
The early look at the 2019-20 budget, which leaders call the “administrative budget” form, includes $55.4 million in revenues and $56 million in expenditures with a gap between the two of $641,660.
“We do have more work to do on the budget to go through and eliminate things that are not necessary,” Harris said. District leaders also need to comb through the details to ensure that items for the new high school are not being paid for out of the annual operating budget.
The majority of the budget, where 71 percent of the revenues — or $38.4 million — come from local tax dollars and goes toward instruction. Those costs make up 53.5 percent of the budget, or nearly $30 million. Of that, $23.3 million alone go toward salaries.
In 2018-19, the district’s expenditures had grown by 25.6 percent over the prior year to $60.7 million, as it included capital projects for Gill Hall, expenditures for the new TJ and air conditioning costs for Jefferson.
Expenditures have dropped down to $56 million for 2019-20.
The overall budget for 2019-20 includes a 5.7 percent increase over 2018-19, which Harris said is “normal for this stage of the budget.”
Next up, the administrative team will review expenditures, Harris said.
The preliminary budget is set for approval in May, with the final budget coming before the school board for adoption in June.