Tyrone area 2005-06 budget brings tax increase to property owners

Tuesday night, the Tyrone Area School District passed its final 2005-06 budget that includes a three-mill tax increase.
During a May work session, the board also considered a 4-mill and 5-mill increase before settling on 3 mills.
The 3-mill-increase applies to property owners in Blair County with taxes being increased 0.24 mills in Centre County and 1.76 mills in Huntingdon County because of adjustments required by tax equalization. A state-mandated formula is used in the Tyrone Area School District to equalize taxes since it is made up of residents from three counties.
The district’s budget shows, based on the average assessed value of a residence, TASD property owners in Blair County will pay an additional $16.73 in taxes for the 05-06 fiscal year.
In Centre County, the increase is $8.24 and in Huntingdon County, the boost in taxes will be $21.32.
School board member Ray Detwiler voted against the proposed tax increase. He was the lone no vote among the board members in attendance. Three school board directors, President Lee Stover, Luther Laird and Cathy Whitby were not at the meeting.
Detwiler had also voted no when the board passed a preliminary budget in May.
The budget shows proposed 05-06 revenues of $18,419,068 and proposed expenditures of $19,305,947 and shows a shortfall of $886,879. It projects an expected fund balance of $506,559 on June 30, 2006. The 05-06 shortfalls would reduce the fund balance to that figure.
The board also voted to take $1,000,000 from its general fund balance and transfer it to its capital reserve fund. The district’s figures, noted in its preliminary budget, showed a fund balance for the district stood at just more than $2.5 million at the end of fiscal year 2004.
The general fund balance was listed to be at $1,393,438 as of June 30, 2005 with the transferred $1,000,000 along with a difference between estimated revenues and expenditures reducing it to that figure.
Detwiler opposed the idea of transferring money to the capital reserve while passing on a tax increase to property owners. Detwiler was also one of two board members who wanted to opt in to the state’s property tax relief program. Overall, the board rejected opting in last month by a 7 to 2 vote.
Previously, Superintendent Dr. William N. Miller said the tax increase was “reasonable” and said the district had not raised taxes in seven years. He also explained the district has traditionally considered having money in its capital reserve fund (currently around $10 million) important to allow it to plan ahead for expected future expenditures and unexpected concerns.
The district is also in the midst of an approximately $10 million renovation and expansion project for its middle school/high school building. Although, the district is financing the project, it has considered the possibility of paying the project off by using the capital reserves.
Miller also noted that property owners in Centre and Huntingdon County had a higher millage rate in 2000-01 and 03-04 than they will have in 05-06 even with the proposed increase because of equalization.