Next year, the tax for residents of the Freeport Area school district will increase, but the amount will vary depending on where you live.
People living in Buffalo Township will be hit much harder than people living in Freeport or South Buffalo. This is because the property tax calculation method for Butler County, where Buffalo Township is located, is different from that for Armstrong County, where Freeport and South Buffalo are located.
The budget discussed by the Board of Education on Thursday includes a tax increase (technically) at the 4.5% index limit set by the state.
However, Butler County real estate owners (Buffalo Township) will pay more than real estate owners in the Brotherhood districts of Armstrong County (Freeport and South Buffalo), based on state officials.
Budget figures provided by the district’s business manager, Brad Walker, show that the actual tax increase for Buffalo Township is 6.7%, while the tax increase for Freeport and South Buffalo is 1.68%. ..
For a Buffalo Township house with an average valuation of $ 19,710, the tax will be raised from the current $ 3,043 per year to $ 3,247. This is a $ 204 jump.
Homes in Freeport or South Buffalo have an average valuation of $ 33,395 and are currently taxed at $ 2,201. The same property under the proposed increase carries a tax bill of $ 2,238. This is an additional $ 37.07 tax.
The reserve budget approved by the Board in May was based on no tax increase, before the district received the final readjustment figures from the State Tax Leveling Commission. The state committee aims to level taxes in districts that cross county boundaries to compensate for differences in valuations from one county to another.
Officials pointed out that even if the school board chooses not to raise taxes, due to the tax leveling process, they will go up for the residents of Buffalo Township (Batler County).
Non-increasing reserve budget figures indicate that the Armstrong County mills in Freeport and South Buffalo remained at 65.90 mills.
However, Butler County’s taxes increased by 7.61 mils, or 4.92%, from 154.4 mils in 2021-22 to 162.01 mils in 2022-23.
Stakeholder: Not unusual
However, this is not uncommon.
The figures provided by Walker showed that from 2017 to 2020-21, when the tax was not increased by the district, it remained the same from one year to the next in Freeport and South Buffalo. In the same year, Buffalo Township showed an increase of 1-3 mils.
“It was a continuous arc because of the growth of all the homes seen in Butler County,” Walker said.
Walker added that Buffalo Township real estate owners will be responsible for about 72% of the local tax burden.
“I think it will level off somewhere,” he said. “In the south of Armstrong, we hope to see growth in the South Buffalo Township.”
Principal Frank Prazenica was upset by the situation.
“I think the board should have the right to keep at 154 mils,” said Prazenica, referring to the current tax rate for Buffalo Township.
“It’s possible, but then we’re going to return the money to Armstrong County,” Toncini said, saying taxes would still have to be leveled. And the district’s deficit, which is currently estimated at just over $ 1 million, will grow.
“For the past four or five years, the district has taken from the balance (to make up for the deficit),” Walker said. “Due to the state tax leveling process, district revenues cannot be lowered enough to keep Butler County taxes the same.
“The best result a district can have is to maintain the status quo of the mill so that income is not lost by the state tax leveling process. But it is the state tax that pushes Butler County (Millage) up. It’s a leveling process, “he said. “It could come up in the opposite direction next year when state tax leveling figures come out.”
Take a closer look at your budget
With the new budget, spending has increased by nearly $ 976,000.
This year’s budget is almost
The pending 2022-23 budget will be close to $ 36.2 million, but $ 35.2 million.
The difference is 2.77%. However, Walker said the consumer price index has risen 8.5% in the last 12 months, trying to understand that the district is fulfilling its financial responsibilities.
He said the figures included a $ 363,000 allocation to the district’s general financial reserve and a $ 300,000 allocation to the capital reserve.
Both of these have led to a $ 66 million refurbishment project that is in great need for a high school that will spread over the next few years.
Regarding operating expenses, the Freeport area is affected by inflation nationwide. A carton of copy paper that costs $ 44 to the district was previously $ 27.
“It’s like $ 14,000 to $ 15,000 on paper alone,” he said. “It’s an increase of $ 3,000 from last year.”
“Inflation is killing the budget,” Walker said. “We are asked to do more with less effort. We fund the building level and do more with less cost to our staff due to current operating costs. I’m asking you to do it.
“Our fixed costs are typically about 88% of our budget, so there’s only about 12% room to wiggle for everything else.”
He said these fixed costs include debt repayments, transportation costs, cyber charter school payments, and labor contracts. According to Walker, contracts for all employee groups are the largest chunk, at 68%.
He said the district administration had taken steps to reduce costs. For example, he said the district signed a five-year contract for copiers, saving $ 27,000 over the entire contract period.
“We have approved a contract with UPMC for athletic trainers, which costs $ 30,000 a year,” Walker said. “I don’t know how much it is, but it’s an astronomical savings for athletic trainers. The tolls for athletic trainers when we were shopping were over $ 70,000 a year.”
In addition, Walker said the district saved about $ 900,000 by not replacing the six staff vacated by retirement.
The final 2022-23 budget will be voted on Thursday.