Penns Valley

Penns Valley school board OKs preliminary budget

The Penns Valley Area school board unanimously approved the 2015-16 preliminary budget on Wednesday night that calls for a 3.25 percent increase — or $810,267 more than the current budget.

The $25,725,348 proposed preliminary budget comes with a 3.73 percent tax increase, said district business manager Jef Wall.

That’s a $72.40 increase per median assessed house value in the district, Wall said. The average home in the district is assessed at $43,085.

But Wall said the proposed preliminary budget is a conservative estimate that “gives the board the maximum options,” and will be adjusted.

An additional $150,000 was added to the charter school budget. That money was taken from money raised through capital funds, Wall said.

“When looking at recent bills, we’re seeing an uptick in charter school enrollment,” Wall said.

The budget also includes $133,000 that will go toward salaries — a 1.36 percent increase from 2014-15. Retirement contributions include $480,000 — a 24 percent increase. Medical insurance also increased by 5.28 percent for a total of $114,310.

The increases in salary, retirement and insurance were a result of contract negotiations and state mandates, Wall said.

He said he included the same amount of state funding in the preliminary budget as the district received last year.

The state will release its preliminary budget next month.

The board also voted to authorize the Centre Hall Library, located on district land, to temporarily allow designated people to possess unloaded weapons affiliated with the 2015 summer reading program that will include a Civil War re-enactment and World War II airborne division presentation.

In an 8-1 vote, the board also approved the position renewal of longtime football coach Martin Tobias for a stipend of $7,799.

Board member Mark Benfer was the lone no vote. Benfer said he had no comment on the vote.

Tobias is the longest tenured high school football coach in Centre County.