JACKSON TWP — The Seneca Valley School Board Monday night passed a balanced budget that includes a property tax increase of 3.7 mills.
The budget for the 2014-15 school year plans for $108.7 million in expenditures, a figure that is more than $7 million higher than last year. The budget also calls for $107.2 million in revenues before an additional $1.5 million is added from the district’s general fund.
That extra $1.5 million is being transferred from the general fund to help pay for new textbooks and to help offset the escalating costs associated with the state’s pension system for teachers.
The district’s property tax rate now sits at 116.45 mills, meaning the average homeowner in the district can expect an $88 tax increase. That figure is based on the median home value in the district, which currently sits at $175,500.
In addition to the property tax increase, the district also curtailed the library and performing arts programs by eliminating a half-time position in each department.
School board members Monday night cautioned residents that although there was a 3.7-mill increase in the budget, 3.25 of those mills are from mandates from outside entities.
President Eric DiTullio said those mandates include paying for increasing costs to the pension system as well as paying for the busing of students to the new Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School.
Board member Bob Hill said there are things contained within the budget that weren’t easy to vote for like program cuts and tax hikes.
However, he added that there are plenty of things in the budget of which to be proud of, including the start of an elementary foreign language program and the start of the International Baccalaureate program.
“I think there is where we need to be as a district,” he said about the budget.
Board member Jim Nickel agreed and said that, although he “tries to respect the wallets of my constituents,” quality education comes with a cost.
“I believe Seneca Valley provides a unique opportunity for our students,” he said.
The board unanimously approved the budget, 9-0.