State College

State College school board OKs budget, tax rebate plan

The State College Area school board passed the final 2015-16 budget Monday, a measure that will include 5.49 percent increase in taxes and a 8.3 percent growth in revenues.

“This is a unique year in our budgeting, because it’s the first year of the referendum for the high school project,” Randy Brown, district business administrator, said.

The referendum debt exception accounts for 3.59 percent of the overall tax increase, a total that also includes the hiring of a few new teachers and administrators, maintaining and upgrading district facilities, and direct contact with students through instruction.

For the average district residential taxpayer, that means a $156 increase in taxes — which, according to Brown, is $50 less than what was projected in January.

Jim Pawelczyk was the only board member to vote against the budget.

“For the most part it has been a successful budget process,” Brown said.

The 2015-16 budget sets aside $200,000 for the Supplemental Property Tax Rebate Program. Board members voted to approve the resolution, which provides property tax rebates for widowers, disabled persons and certain senior citizens on fixed or limited incomes. The vote was 7-1, with Scott Fozard dissenting

Talk of the State High project dominated a majority of Monday night’s meeting as the board reviewed the 90 percent design update with Jeff Straub and Matt Harlow, of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates, and Tim Jones, of Massaro CM Services LLC.

At this stage of the project, much of the layout of the new and improved educational facility has been finalized and much of the evening was spent reviewing smaller details like landscaping or the possible addition of canopies to guard students from inclement weather.

The biggest change between Monday night’s update and the previously submitted 60 percent design was the physical education space, which transitioned from a general concept to a fully fleshed out design.

Jones discussed a detailed plan to guide the high school through each phase of construction, taking into consideration needs like parking, academic space and student manuverability from now through the project’s scheduled completion date of summer 2018.

The community will have the opportunity to view the new floorplans during a forum at 6 p.m. June 16 in the high school North Building auditorium.