By J.R. Brower
For the second year in a row, the Peters Township School District has increased taxes. Although not as high as last year’s 3-mill increase, the Peters Township School Board felt that a 2.68-mill increase was warranted for the 2010-2011 school year in order to balance the budget.
The tax rate increase amounts to 2.9 percent, and the school board approved it unanimously at their June 28 meeting while reducing the 2010-2011 budget by over $900,000. The final budget approved was in the amount of $48,828,593.
Still one of the lowest millage rates in Washington County, it now stands at 95.18, and the new increased rates are already reflected in new tax bill mailed out to Peters Township residents in early July. A property owner whose house is assessed at $200,000 will see an additional $130 on his tax bill compared to last year.
Included in the board’s actions to not have to increase the tax rate even further was a transfer of $300,000 from capital reserves to the general fund in order to get the budget balanced. With large contribution increases for employee pensions expected in the next several years, it is reasonable to assume that school taxes may have to be increased again next year.
School enrollment has stayed about the same in recent years due to a decrease in new home construction. Housing starts in Peters Township used to average over 200 per year, but so far this year there have only been about 30 new homes built, according to township records.
When enrollment does not increase, the school district does not have to hire more teachers, but at the same time, when less new homes are built and sold, it means tax revenue coming to the district does not increase either. School officials have said that the district is looking at alternative ways to increase revenues and reduce expenses.