Bellefonte

Bellefonte school board approves final budget with tax increase

Information about the Bellefonte Area School District budget

Bellefonte Area director of fiscal affairs Ken Bean breaks down the district budget. The school board unanimously approved the 2016-17 budget Tuesday night that comes with a 1 percent tax increase.
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Bellefonte Area director of fiscal affairs Ken Bean breaks down the district budget. The school board unanimously approved the 2016-17 budget Tuesday night that comes with a 1 percent tax increase.

Residents in the Bellefonte Area School District will pay more in district taxes next school year.

The Bellefonte Area school board unanimously approved a 2016-17 budget of $48.825 million at its meeting Tuesday night at the Bellefonte Area Middle School.

That’s a more than $1.2 million increase from the current year’s budget, and it also comes with about a 1 percent tax increase.

District director of fiscal affairs Ken Bean said the funds supporting the tax increase would specifically be put toward “future capital expenditures” to help build the reserve fund balance.

Bean said the board will make annual budget reviews to see if specific monies from taxes would go toward a reserve fund, or if it will be a “one-time thing.”

A report from the district said the average homeowner who lives in the district will pay $2,445.90 in annual taxes — or $25.19 more a year than the 2015-16 school year, Bean said.

The average assessed home value in the Bellefonte Area School District is $50,437.

According to a report from the district, 38.3 percent of that budget will go toward salaries, 28.1 percent will go toward benefits, and 13.1 percent will go toward other purchased services.

Those are the three largest chunks of budget costs, according to a district report.

Other funds will be used to pay for professional services, supplies and more.

In total, salaries and benefit costs increased by more than 6 percent, while other purchased services costs decreased by 1.1 percent from the 2015-16 school year, a report from the district said.

“Other purchased services” include bus contracts, tuition to Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, charter schools and other institutions, insurance costs and more, Bean said.

Board member Rob Pacella was a vocal advocate for not raising taxes but still voted for the final budget.

“I’ve already taken heat from residents on the rising taxes, but it’s important to know we have to put money away,” he said. “If we don’t do something now, it’s going to be more costly in the long run, but his is a necessary thing. I’m glad at where we’re at.”

Pacella said he was swayed to vote in favor of the tax increase after touring Bellefonte Area school facilities, and seeing needs of some buildings.

The board also unanimously approved an athletics and food service budget.

For the 2016-17 school year, athletics could cost the district $635,000 — an 8.2 percent increase from 2015-16 school year, and food service could cost the district $1.57 million.

A report from the district said administrators expect to break even next school year from food service profits.

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