State College

State College board OKs spending plan

The State College Area school board approved the 2015-16 proposed preliminary budget at a special meeting Monday night, in an 8-1 vote.

The $135.75 million spending plan includes a 6.1 percent tax increase, of which 1.9 percent would go toward the state-mandated Act 1 index. The rest would fund referendum debt for the construction of the new high school.

The average residential taxpayer in the district, with an assessed value of $71,686, would pay an additional $173.24 in taxes, district spokesman Chris Rosenblum said.

The Act 1 index is used to determine maximum increases for each tax the school district levies.

The approval was based on an $85 million, 30-year referendum borrowing plan.

District Business Administrator Randy Brown called the proposal a “conservative figure.”

Board member Jim Pawelczyk cast the lone no vote. He said he’d like to see the referendum paid off using money within the budget instead of “unnecessary taxes.”

Pawelczyk does not support the 30-year borrowing plan, he said.

“You don’t tax more just because you can,” Pawelczyk said. “It’s the largest unnecessary expense a school board perpetrated on this community.”

On Monday, the board will approve one of two plans to pay off the referendum debt, including the 30-year plan to borrow the loan in full and the 25-year plan that would allow the district to borrow $50 million in March and another $35 million next year.

Brown said taxpayers wouldn’t see a difference between the two plans because the debt service in both cases would be 4.2 percent.

The total cost of the State High renovation is $115 million. In addition to $85 million in referendum debt, the district will use $10 million in capital reserve funds and $20 million in nonreferendum borrowing, Rosenblum said.

Brown said the payment decision could change the preliminary budget that will be voted on by the board Feb. 9.