During the May Titusville Area School District Board of School Directors meetings, District Business Manager Shawn Sampson said that numbers could change before the school board accepted the final budget at their June meetings.

In good news for district  residents, due to anticipated state revenue increases, the proposed tax increases will be less than previously predicted.

The May proposed budget included a 1.06 mill tax increase for Crawford County residents, a 2.43% increase, and a 1.42 mill increase for Warren County residents, a 2.53% increase. There was no increase for Venango County residents.

The final budget, presented Monday night, now has tax increases of .45 mills for Crawford County residents, a 1.03% increase, no increase for Warren County residents and a decrease of .23 mills for Venango County residents.

The district must use market value numbers from State Tax Equalization Board to balance millage for residents in the different counties. Property values in the counties can contribute to the difference in millage increases. The final budget will be up for approval at the school board’s regular meeting on Monday, June 20.

Governor Tom Wolf has been campaigning for the Pennsylvania State Legislature to pass a $1.2 billion increase in education funding for state schools. As no one party has complete control over the state house and senate, compromises must be made.

In the proposed budget, the district did not include any increase in state revenue increases. At that time, Sampson said little information was available on what an increase may look like, and did not want to build in any increase that the district might have to take back.

However, based on what Sampson is hearing, he is confident that some increase will be coming.

“What we learned really last week is a level of confidence to add in a number not what the governor is proposing, but a significant number,” said Sampson.

 For the final budget, the district has added in an increase of $300 million for education funding across the state, which would equate to an increase in $800,000 for the district.

Sampson called the $300 million increase a “pretty safe number.” When the finance committee looks to anticipate an increase, he said they air on the side where they have more confidence.

With the anticipated increases, the district is now looking at a deficit of $276,000 — $170,000 of that deficit will be covered by federal stimulus dollars. That leaves $106,000 that will be raised by tax increases. The proposed budget had $205,000 raised by tax increases.

Sampson said that the tax increases fall “well below the Act 1 index” which allowed up to $450,000 to be raised by increased taxes.

The anticipated increase in state revenue will also help the district transition off of federal ESSER funding. The district has received more than $11 million in COVID assistance funding from the federal government.

The district has a set timeframe where they have to spend their COVID assistance funding. Since the district received the money, they have been worried about managing the use of the money so that they are prepared for when the money expires, and they can no longer lean on it.

“If we get this funding,  our reliance on federal ESSER money is less, which is good news because we don’t have to figure out large amounts in the next couple of years of how to wean off of that federal money,” said Sampson.

While tax millage is going up, Sampson talked about a tax program that was increased and could further help district residents. There was an increase in tax relief through the homestead/farmstead exclusion this year. The exclusion will increase $43 for each approved property. That increases the relief to $201 per household.

Dvorkin can be reached by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.

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