10 May 2012 — Bucks County Courier Times By Amanda Cregan/Staff Writer
Homeowners in the New Hope-Solebury school district might see an $80 tax hike.
At its meeting Monday night, the school board unanimously approved the $34.6 million proposed budget for the 2012-13 school year.
Under the plan, next school year's budget includes a 1.7 percent tax hike for New Hope-Solebury homeowners.
The tax rate would increase from 83.30 to 84.72 mills.
One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Owners of homes assessed at the district average of $56,829 would pay an additional $80 on their tax bills.
The average tax bill would rise from $4,734 to $4,814 next school year.
Homeowners who signed up for their slice of gaming revenue are expected to receive a $261 tax credit.
But unlike property taxes, where increases pile up year after year, the state's homestead/farmstead exemptions to homeowners are not cumulative and don't keep pace with millage rates.
The additional 1.42 mills will add $429,000 to New Hope-Solebury coffers. But the district will still need to pull $1.3 million from its savings to make ends meet.
Early in the year, the board agreed not to pursue a tax increase above the Act 1 index of 1.7 percent. Act 1 is a state guideline that determines the maximum tax increase a district can levy before exceptions or a voter referendum.
The board has scaled back on expenditures, including new technology supplies and software, equipment purchases and any major building repairs.
On Monday, the board directed its administration to pursue a comprehensive building study, which would examine configuration, capacity and cost analysis. District officials will report on the findings in the fall.
Last month, the school board agreed to eliminate two elementary teacher positions, which will save the district about $157,000 in salary and benefits next school year. The district will not yet release the names of the two teachers furloughed.
Under state law, school districts cannot lay off teachers for economic reasons. New Hope-Solebury is experiencing a dip in first-grade enrollment, and the district is allowed to furlough teachers when student enrollment drops.
On Monday night, school board members declined to discuss the proposed final budget vote.
New Hope resident Michael Daley told the board he was surprised by their silence on the matter.
"There are some significant concerns," he said, of the budget. "I was aghast that it went through unanimously when there are problems going forward."
The board will vote on the final 2012-13 budget at its June 4 meeting.
"New Hope-Solebury eyes $80 tax increase" Bucks County Courier Times 10 May 2012: A10