HASB reviews cuts, tax options

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Hollidaysburg Area School District could see a budget deficit of $3.2 million for the 2022-23 school year if the board decides against budget reductions and raising real estate taxes.

The current tax rate for the homeowners in the district is 9.4326 mills. The maximum millage increase allowed under the Act 1 Index for Hollidaysburg is 0.3962, or 4.2%, which would bring the total millage rate to 9.8288, according to a budget presentation put together for Wednesday’s meeting by business manager and board secretary Autumn Fiscus and director of accounting operations Stacey Thomas. This millage increase would bring in an estimated additional $919,243 in tax revenue.

Fiscus also presented possible budget reductions, with the largest being department cuts of $305,000. Other areas touched upon included resource officer reduction, an additional teacher position, curriculum purchase reduction, Career and Technical Center tuition adjustment and insurance renewal savings for a total of $1,569,884.

If a millage rate increase and budget reductions are both approved by the board during next week’s meeting, the total projected deficit for the upcoming school year would be brought down from $3,208,971 to $719,844.

Even with these measures, in order to not increase its deficit, the district would need to raise the millage rate an additional 4.17 mills by the 2026-27 school year, according to Thomas. Without the budget reductions, the millage rate would have to increase an additional 6.17 total mills and without the tax increase, the number would be 8.15 mills.

That means, if no other measures are taken, the total millage rate for the 2026-27 school year would have to be 17.5826 mills — an impossible number, Thomas said.

“I think the per-student cost for the kids to be educated speaks volumes about what we’re doing with the money that we have,” board member Lonna Frye said about the budget deficit.

Superintendent Robert Gildea disagreed, saying that the district didn’t have a spending issue and instead runs a very efficient operation.

“Hollidaysburg ranks 459th out of 500 school districts statewide in per-person expenditure,” Gildea said. “The school board and school boards all across the state — in particular our area — are being put in a very difficult situation because the state is essentially telling Hollidaysburg and many other school districts in the area ‘you can carry more of the weight through local taxes.'”

The percentage of state funding the district is decreasing every year, Gildea said.

“Over the last five years, our state revenue has an average increase of less than 1% and you know how much our expenses are going up,” he said.

The board will decide on what measures to approve at its next meeting on May 25.

Mirror Staff Writer Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.


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