New annual budget has slight tax hike

By on June 21, 2017

School property taxes will climb 1.5 percent in Cocalico next year, under a budget given final approval Monday night.

The Cocalico School Board voted 8-0 with member Randall Renninger absent to pass a $59.9-million budget that is unchanged from the preliminary version advertised in May.

The budget funds several new special education positions and expands the district’s pre-school program through grant funding. But it depends largely on a fund balance to close a $6.7-million revenue shortfall.

Business manager Sherri Stull said the tax increase is expected to bring in about $487,000 in new income. The shortfall will be made up in part from assigned funds that will cover increases in pension costs ($2.5 million) and new investments in technology ($860,000).

The district is also expected to have a $4.8-million cushion when this year’s budget closes in July. That money that will carry over into 2017-18.

But next year’s budget is tighter, with just $1.4 million expected to remain in the district’s coffers. So the board also voted Monday to commit any additional 2017-18 cash identified through an annual audit to next year’s general fund.

The district could have hiked taxes as much as 2.5 percent under the state’s tax cap limit. The 1.5-percent increase follows a flat tax level for 2017-18.

Next year, taxpayers will owe $2.316 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value. Homeowners with Cocalico’s median assessed value of $139,500 will see an increase of $47.43 in their 2017-18 bill.

Superintendent Dr. Ella Musser said the district could be proud of its final budget and its support for programs and initiatives that serve students, “even with certain reductions and cost cutting.”

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