Spring Cove votes for property tax hike

Board passes $26.5M budget

ROARING SPRING — The Spring Cove School Board agreed Monday in a pair of 7-2 votes to pass a $26.5 million 2017-18 budget and raise property taxes about 3.2 percent.

The budget covers rising expenses in several areas, including its employee pension contribution, which is expected to reach a new high in the coming year. The budget does not include any new positions, although some teaching jobs are set to be shuffled next year, Superintendent Betsy Baker said.

The board first approved a revenue-neutral property tax rate — one that would keep the district’s revenue on pace with the 2016-17 year — just over 10 mills. The vote follows a countywide reassessment that valued the district’s total taxable real estate at $1 billion.

In another vote, the board agreed to then raise property taxes to 10.36 mills, a 3.2 percent hike over last year’s taxes. The district did not raise taxes last year.

Board members voted 7-2 in the vote to set a new tax rate and to pass the budget itself. Members James Smith and Mary Smith voted against both measures.

“It’s a tax increase,” James Smith said when a fellow board member asked him to explain his opposition. Smith said he sees areas that could be cut, citing transportation costs but offering no other details.

The votes Monday were identical to those last month, when the board approved a near-identical preliminary budget for public review.

Members at the time said they saw little more that could be cut, pointing to rising pension obligations and other expenses as well as concerns that property appeals could reduce the district’s expected income. District forecasts suggest the growth in teacher’s pension costs could slow after the coming school year.

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.