School district will not seek tax cap exceptions

By on December 20, 2017

Cocalico School District will not seek any exceptions to the state’s predetermined tax cap for 2018-19, school board members decided at a meeting Monday night.

By passing an “opt-out” resolution, the district agreed to cap any increase next financial year at 2.9 percent or less. That index rate is determined by Act 1, a state law passed in 2006 to prevent extreme tax spikes.

Business Manager Sherri Stull said the district’s base maximum rate is 2.4 for 2018-19, but an additional .5 percent would be allowed because of the district’s poverty level.

“We plan to stay at or below this allowable increase,” Stull said. “We are not going to go above that and take allowable exceptions that the state also offers. We feel we can live with that 2.9 or lower.”

The board will set its final tax rate during budget deliberations late next spring, likely in April. The budget must be presented to the state by June 30.

The budget resolution passed 8-0, with one seat vacant.

The board announced Monday its plan to replace James Kidwell, who notified the district earlier this month that he would be unable to serve the four-year term he was elected to in November. Kidwell cited personal reasons.

Board president Allen Dissinger outlined a plan for finding a new board member, starting with a vacancy posting on Dec. 19.

The district will then accept letters of interest and resumes through Jan. 2, 2018. Candidates must be 18 or older, have lived in the district for one year prior to appointment and be in “good moral standing.”

The board will interview select candidates at a public meeting on Jan. 8. Immediately following, current members will hold a public vote to select the replacement and that person will be sworn in Jan. 22.

The approach is different than the last time the board filled a vacancy in 2015. During that cycle, the board publicly identified only one of two candidates and appointed that person to a short-term seat without any opportunity for public input.

Former Cocalico Athletic Director Audrey Stoner filled the seat vacated by Michael Messner for about nine months.

“Since it’s going to be two full years, we went to a more extensive procedure,” Dissinger said.

The district will still screen candidates to limit the number that reach the interview round.

The appointee will serve a two-year term, and a special election for another two-year term will be slated for 2019.

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