AASD won’t raise taxes

Budget plan holds levy at 6 mills

Altoona Area School District administrators will present a budget with no tax increase for the school board’s approval May 6.

A 2019-20 budget that holds taxes at 6 mills is not what board member Dave Francis expected, he said after a committee of the whole meeting Mon­day night.

He expected a tax increase to help fund the district’s high school building project that he voted against. Construction is currently underway on Sixth and Seventh avenues.

“I’m surprised because of the building project, but it hasn’t come into effect with the bond issue yet,” Francis said.

Francis noted that the county and city are not raising taxes either.

“It’s a good thing. Hopefully the district can hold down health care costs. The administration did a good job on the budget,” he said.

The district has raised taxes for the past two years, increasing annual local revenue from $28.2 million in 2016-17 to $30.8 million currently. There have been six tax increases in the past 34 years, Business Manager Camilla Houy said.

In the budget for next year, she is projecting a deficit of $3 million by the end of the fiscal year in 2020, but it could be higher if health care claims are high, she said.

If there is a deficit, the district’s fund balance at $50 million, would be used to cover it, she said.

The proposed $114 million budget for 2019-20 includes half a million dollars in contingency funds for hospitalization that are not expected to be used, but the money is budgeted anyway to protect the district if necessary, Houy said.

Houy noted that a majority of the district’s funding is from state sources. The school district is set to receive a total of $69 million in state revenue, representing a $600,000 increase from last year if Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2019-20 executive state budget is approved by lawmakers.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.