Highlands to seek exceptions to increase property taxes by more than state limit
Property owners in the Highlands School District could be facing another increase in their school taxes.
The school board on Monday approved advertising a preliminary budget, a step toward increasing the property tax beyond the district’s state-imposed limit.
The board did not discuss specifics of the budget at the voting meeting Monday.
The property tax was increased up to the limit last year for the $40.31 million 2018-19 budget. The tax rate was increased by 3.5 percent, from 23.8 mills to 24.63 mills.
Under the state’s Act 1, Highlands is able to increase property taxes by up to 3.3 percent for the 2019-20 school year without voter approval or, as is more commonly done, by getting exceptions to avoid a referendum.
Business Manager Lori Byron said Highlands will cite pension and special education costs as reasons for increasing the property tax rate by more than its limit.
She could not say how much that might be because the budget is not yet finalized. It will be available for public review in 10 days, she said.
Under Act 1, since Highlands did not adopt a resolution stating it will not increase taxes by more than its index, it must have a proposed version of a preliminary budget available for public inspection by Jan. 31, according to the state Department of Education.
Highlands has until Feb. 20 to adopt a 2019-20 preliminary budget.
In February, the school board will hold its agenda planning meeting on Feb. 11 and its regular meeting on Feb. 18. The board meets at 7 p.m. in the library at Highlands High School.
Highlands will have until March 7 to seek approval from the state for referendum exceptions. The state has until March 27 to issue a ruling on the district’s petition.
Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, email@example.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .