CENTER TOWNSHIP — A preliminary budget for the next school year in the Homer-Center School District came Thursday with the potential of a hefty tax increase and a promise: “It’s not going to happen.”
The budget calls for a tax hike that would cost the average property owner about $82 more — a 7 mill boost including about 3.8 mills allowed under the economic index and the rest under exceptions to the referendum provision of the Act 1 school tax law.
Board President Vicki Smith said those are working figures and the actual tax increase will be less.
On paper, the real estate tax would reach 132.6 mills. Other taxes of 0.9 percent on earned income and 0.5 percent on real estate transfers and a $5 local services levy would continue.
The administration drafted the budget to include more local tax revenue than is expected to be necessary, because the exact amount of state support won’t be known for several months.
“We do not, under any circumstances, intend to go to 7 (mills) without knowing the budget figures from the governor,” said Smith. “We are going to make sure we have that ability if it should be needed. But it is not our intention to do that.”
In all, the budget shows $15.7 million of expenses for 2014-15, about $500,000 more than this year. The largest part of the increase is the district’s contribution to the teachers’ pension fund, which accounts for 2.8 mills of the property tax increase, said Superintendent Charles Koren.
The board will hold budget workshops March 13 and April 3.
The administration will fine-tune the budget until May, then present it for the board’s tentative approval and for 30 days of public display. The district faces a June 30 deadline to enact the budget — the same deadline for the state Legislature to ratify a budget that would set the amount of aid to public schools.
Following a day of continuous snowfall in the region, the board barely mustered a quorum of five members to conduct business.
Smith and directors Gerald Bertig, Michael Bertig, Fred Hayes and Joy Sasala unanimously approved all items on the agenda. Members Dan Fabin, James McLoughlin, Julie Rado and Sherri Williams were absent.
In other business, the board:
• Designated May 23 and April 22 as makeup days for class time lost to bad weather on Jan. 28 and Feb. 5.
• Approved the 2014-15 school calendar, which shows the students’ first day of class on Aug. 25 and final day on June 3, 2015. Teacher in-service days are scheduled Aug. 20 and 21 and June 4.