Dallas School District approves property tax hike limit

By Eileen Godin - egodin@timesleader.com | January 5th, 2016 5:31 pm

By Eileen Godin


DALLAS TWP. — With the reliability of state funding unknown, the Dallas School Board took a “precautionary step” and approved a property tax hike limit of 4.05 percent Monday, the district business manager said.

The tax hike limit was part of the overall $38 million preliminary budget presented to school board members Monday night.

The unanimous approval does not guarantee property tax rates will be raised for the 2016-17 school year, said business manager Grant Palfey.

“There are too many unknowns to say if (the Dallas School District) needs a tax increase,” Palfey said.

Palfey had to create a preliminary budget based on state funding estimations. Actual figures on state funding are usually known in the late spring, he said.

“Thirty percent of our (Dallas School District’s) budget comes from the state,” he said.

The property tax hike limit approval provides the District the “opportunity” to raise property taxes above the Commonwealth’s Act I Index if state funding does not come through or is not enough, Palfey said, which is a possibility since the “state is no longer a reliable source of revenue.”

The District’s tax index is 2.8 percent. The Act I Index, implemented in 2006, requires school districts to vote to raise the tax limit due to “exceptions to cover specific types of costs” in January, according to the Pennsylvania State Educational Association.

Palfey cited funding pensions as a contributing factor for the tax limit increase.

Despite the continued 2015 state budget impasse, Gov. Tom Wolf did release emergency funding to school districts statewide.

The Dallas School District received $4.4 million Monday to meet payroll and other expenses.

The school board will review the preliminary 2016-17 budget at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 in the administration building. The final vote on the proposed budget will be held in June.

Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.