AP NEWS

Ramblers may seek tax law exceptions in 2019

November 9, 2018

The Windber Area School District board has allowed for the district to pursue a tax increase beyond the Act 1 index next year.

Act 1 is a state law designed to protect taxpayers from inordinate tax increases. Districts are allowed, however, to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for exceptions to the index if they feel the need. Exceptions can include retirement, special education and cyberschool costs.

Before January, school districts are required to tell the department if they want to apply for Act 1 exceptions next year.

On Tuesday, the school board did that.

Superintendent Joe Kimmel said that Windber tells the department every year that it may apply for Act 1 exceptions even if there are no plans for a tax increase.

“We’re just following the procedure and have the option if we want to do that,” he said.

Although salaries and benefits are the district’s highest costs, special education costs also put stress on the district, according to Kimmel.

“Those costs are pretty profound,” he said.

The district’s Act 1 index this year is 3.4 percent. The district could raise taxes to this limit without seeking exceptions.

Last year, the district increased taxes to the index limit of 3.14 percent, which amounted to increases of 0.67 mills for Somerset County residents and 1.82 mills for Cambria County residents in the district.

The board has raised taxes every year since the 2009-10 school year.

The district receives about 70 percent of its budget from state monies and the remaining 30 percent from local and federal sources.

In June the board imposed a 3.46 percent tax increase to 27.17 mills in Somerset County and a 3.41 percent increase to 46.66 mills in Cambria County.

This raised the average district resident’s annual real estate taxes by $20. Kimmel cited rising costs for retirement and health insurance as the main reasons for the tax hike.

A 2018-19 district budget will be approved in June.

AP RADIO
Update hourly