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Tax increase, graduation plans topics for Hughesville School Board

By Staff | May 20, 2020

HUGHESVILLE – With funding from the state in question, the East Lycoming School District’s 2020-21 proposed budget actually reflects a $477,000 decrease, or 1.8 percent, compared to the 2019-20 budget, according to Heather Burke, business manager.

Burke issued her budget report at the board meeting held via Zoom Tuesday night.

“We had to go back to the drawing board, obviously, when we decreased revenue over $700,000 based on not knowing how the state budget would come in and also some other areas,” Burke said.

Areas that saw a decrease were in the debt service, $282,540; technology and facility maintenance reserve, $185,814; supplies and equipment, $86,000 and salary and benefits, $72,527.

The district’s board approved the proposed final general fund budget of $26,073,120, which sets the tax rate at 14.89 mills for real estate tax.

The real estate tax reflects a .51 (or 3.55 percent) increase over the 2019-20 rate, which means property owners can expect to pay $51 more for every $100,000 of their home’s assessed value.

On the revenue side, Burke said that the district was looking at $25.7 million.

“We had to decrease this significantly from the preliminary budget, mainly because of COVID-19 and then the uncertainty of the stateside,” she said.

Burke told the board that the district will use $600,000 of the committed fund balance (savings) or the amount needed to balance the 2020-21 budget.

Looking ahead, Burke noted that the committed fund balance will be used over each of the next few years to phase in the increase in retirement contributions and to minimize the need for higher real estate taxes.

At the beginning of the meeting, Michael Pawlik, district superintendent, told the board that some plans have been made for graduation. After surveying the students, Pawlik said that a face-to-face graduation would be held in mid-July if the current health crisis allows.

A special event is also planned for June 3, which was the original date set for graduation ceremonies.

Pawlik also reported that the food distribution, which began due to the closure of schools by the governor, would end May 29, the week before the end of the school year. He noted that over 15,000 meals had been served.

Because the district does not meet the threshold for free and subsidized lunches, they are not permitted to participate in the Seamless Summer Option Program which provides meals to students in qualifying districts throughout the summer. The district was permitted to participate during the shutdown due to approval by the state.

The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. May 26.