School budget lowers taxes, hikes spending
New teachers, courses, textbooks and technology — along with a lower property tax rate — are included in the $40.94 million budget adopted by the Moon Area School Board for the 2002-03 academic year.
Approved Tuesday, the budget represents a 6.4 percent spending increase over the last school year's $40.25 million plan, minus $1.78 million set aside for tax appeals, according to Al Bennett, district business manager.
The tax rate was dropped to 15.72 mills from 17.4 mills last year — a reduction of nearly 10 percent — because of increased assessed valuation of taxable property in the district brought about by the countywide property reassessments and by new construction.
Taxpayers also will receive a one-time tax credit of 1.03 mills because of the district receiving excess real estate tax revenue in 2001-02. With the credit, the net tax rate for 2002-03 is 14.69 mills, a reduction of more than 15 percent over the last school year.
A mill is estimated to generate about $1.61 million in the district, which includes Moon and Crescent townships.
Despite higher property values as a result of county reassessments, most homeowners will have lower school-tax bills because the reduction in the tax rate is greater than the increase in the value of a typical home in the district.
According to county data, the value of a typical home in the district increased 12.8 percent, from about $106,205 in 2001 to $119,800 this year. Under the 2001-02 tax rate, the owner of a home valued at $106,205 paid about $1,848 in school taxes. Under the adjusted 14.69 mill rate, the owner of a typical home, now valued at $119,800, will pay about $1,760 — a decrease of about $88.
The budget includes 9 1 / 2 additional teaching positions, two of which will be funded by federal grants. The budget also includes a new language-arts curriculum for all grades; a new elementary science curriculum; and new texts for computer science and keyboarding in sixth through eighth grades.
The district also will start a "help desk" to assist staff and students in resolving computer problems.
An additional $275,000 of remaining 1997 bond funds have been earmarked for technology upgrades and capital improvements included in original budget requests from school administrators. Overall, $1.73 million was cut from the initial requests.
Superintendent Alexander Meta said the spending plan is sound and will provide good educational opportunities for students.