DALLAS TWP. — In an 8-1 vote, the Dallas School Board approved the 2016-17 preliminary budget Wednesday.
The $38,301,415 budget includes a 4.05 percent tax increase, raising the millage rate to 13.1381. A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.
It also includes a $10 per capita tax, one percent earned income tax and an emergency municipal services tax of $52.
Board member Sherri Newell voted against the budget, which will not be finalized until a vote in June.
The 2016-17 preliminary budget is based on a lot of estimation since the district received only partial state funding of $4.4 million for the 2015-16 school year on Jan. 4.
“The state has not finalized the 2015-16 budget yet,” said Grant Palfey, district business manager. “We are just hedging against the state of the unknown for the 2016-17 budget.”
State funding comprises nearly 30 percent of the district’s revenue, Palfey said in a previous interview.
The preliminary tax increase uses a tax-limit-increase exception that the district applied for earlier this month under the Pennsylvania State Act 1 Index.
The Act 1 Index, implemented in 2006, requires school districts to vote to raise the tax limit due to “exceptions to cover specific types of costs” in January, according to the Pennsylvania State Educational Association.
The district sought out exceptions based on expenses associated with pensions and special education, said Colleen Slocum, president of the Dallas School Board.
The exceptions will allow the district to increase the property taxes above the 2.8 percent state limit. However, just because the board voted to raise taxes 4.05 percent does not mean the final budget will have such a large increase.
“This is our third year to consider using the exceptions (under Act 1 Index),” Slocum said. “The last two years we did not take advantage of it. We are committed to not having to use it again this year. It is a type of insurance for us.”
The proposed 2016-17 school budget is available in the Dallas School District’s administration building for public review.
The next regular meeting of the Dallas School Board will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 in the administration building.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.