New Castle News

Schools

May 20, 2014

Wilmington seeking tax increase

NEW CASTLE — The Wilmington school district is asking for a 2014-2015 tax increase greater than the 2.8 percent state index.

The district is seeking 5.29 percent in Lawrence County and 3.04 percent in Mercer County.

Jennifer Conrad, district business manager, said the hike is being sought because of increases in the cost of pensions, special education and employee health care.

Conrad said the Pennsylvania Department of Education has approved a referendum exception for the district, based on the retirement and special education increases. This allows the tax increase to take place without a voter referendum.

The proposed increase in millage would raise Lawrence County residents’ rates from 13.39 to 14.10 mills. This would amount to an increase of less than $100 per year on a home in Lawrence County assessed at $100,000, Conrad said.

In Mercer County, the increase would be from 62.6 to 64.5 mills.

The millage rates are different because Lawrence County was reassessed in the early 2000s and Mercer County is still using 1970s assessments, Conrad said. The millage rates equalize through the Pennsylvania budget form’s formulas, she added, although they are never exactly the same.

Conrad said the district’s pension contribution will increase from 16.93 to 21.4 percent next school year. Employee health care costs will increase 10.71 percent.

The budget for 2014-15 was introduced at the board’s May 12 work session. It anticipates $26.25 million in revenue, including $9.09 million in local revenue, $9.59 million in state revenue, $55,000 in federal revenue and a beginning balance of $7.51 million, with $6.12 million of that already assigned.

The proposed budget is on display at the school district offices, 400 Wood St., New Wilmington, until June 16, when the school board will vote on final adoption.

The district’s last tax increase was in the 2012-13 school year.

(Email: grzebieniak@ncnewsonline.com)

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