Spring Cove SD wants tax funds

Spring Cove School Board’s plan to claim half of the 1 percent realty transfer tax has municipal officials worried,

Currently all of the tax goes to the municipalities

Representatives for the six municipalities in Spring Cove plan to address the school district board at its committee meeting at 7 p.m. today. The voting meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 17.

“The Spring Cove School District has been operating for many years under the misconception that we are not legally permitted to receive the realty transfer tax revenue,” said a statement from Superintendent Betsy Baker.

She added Kathy Hazenstab, the district’s business manager, recently found that assumption to be incorrect and a resolution is needed for the district to receive these funds.

Baker said the district is entitled to this money and that the district has been operating with a deficit budget. Between 2013 and 2016, she estimates the school district would have received about $103,000 to $175,000 if it had collected half of the realty transfer tax.

Of the 500 public school districts in Pennsylvania, Spring Cove is one of only 11 that do not currently receive these funds, according to Baker.

Managers and supervisors for Martinsburg, Roaring Spring, North Woodbury Township, Huston Township, Taylor Township and Freedom Township met with the school district board to discuss the resolution Tuesday.

Jim Walter, Huston Township supervisor, said the district’s intent to claim 0.5 percent of the realty transfer tax took everyone by surprise.

He said the school district has the right to claim the share of taxes and estimated it would take about 5 percent of Huston township’s total budget or about $10,000.

“We’ll just have to make do with less. That’s what townships typically do,” Walter said. He said the township could raise its taxes should the school district board decide to take its half of the tax, but he doesn’t want to do so.

Richard Brantner Jr., Martinsburg Borough manager, said he is not happy with the district’s resolution to take half of the realty transfer tax.

“It’s going to take a big part of our budget,” Brantner said.

He estimates about $20,000 would be taken from the borough’s roughly $800,000 annual budget. Brantner added that he would’ve liked more of a warning since the borough is in the middle of its budgeting process.

He said the borough’s budget goes toward street maintenance and police and fire protection.

“What they are taking from us is just a fraction, a small piece of the pie, out of what the school district’s budget is,” Brantner said. “It’s a larger impact on us.”

The school district’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. The fiscal year for municipalities matches the calendar year.

Baker said the district recommended Jan. 1, 2019, as the effective date of the resolution as a courtesy to municipalities and to work around their budgeting process.