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United School District caps property taxes for 2023-24

The United School District board of directors unanimously approved capping 2023-24 property taxes Tuesday at the local inflation rate.

The board certified it would not raise any taxes used to support the district, primarily real estate taxes, by a rate greater than the 5.9 percent Act 1 index calculated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The resolution does not lock the district into raising taxes, but it does prevent the district from exceeding the index without going to referendum.

“It doesn’t lock us into any sort of action at this point,” said board member and legislative chairperson Hunter Overdorff. “It just says we will not raise (the real estate tax) above the Act 1 index of 5.9 mills there. So, it’s basically a protection for the taxpayers.”

Overdorff said if the district does end up raising taxes, residents could see up to a $75 to $100 increase on their year-to-year tax bills. Though, Overdorff explained that would be a worst-case scenario.

“Basically, (the tax rate could) go up about 0.5 mills,” Overdorff said. “We’re at 11.156 mills, so it could go to about 11.5 mills, which is roughly a $75-100 increase on taxpayers’ tax bills. (That’s the) worst-case scenario that we (could) see.”

Each year, the board approves a resolution for the Act 1 index, which prevents the district from raising property taxes above a certain amount set by PDE and based on inflation. This is often the first step school districts take to lay out their spending plans.

“All budgets are in preliminary settings right now, so we really don’t have any sound numbers,” Overdorff said. “It’s important to pass this now because next year, we begin our budget process. So, that’s when we’re looking at revenues, expenditures, basically the overall budget, and it’s a taxpayer protection measurement that says the board cannot increase taxes above this amount without voter approval.”

Board President Eric Matava, Vice President Dan Henning, treasurer James Fry and directors Donald Bowers Jr., Aaron Conway, James McCloskey, Mark Somers and Overdorff unanimously approved all matters of business on the board meeting agenda. Board member Shaun McGinnis was absent.

In other news Tuesday, the board approved:

• Three volunteers for the 2022-23 school year, including Christy Penatzer as an elementary volunteer and Melissa Rosko and Dayne Ross as high school volunteers.

• Recognizing and sanctioning girls’ wrestling as a sport in the district.

• The request from Lori Cramer-Nagle, on behalf of Relay for Life, to waive the fees of a building usage request to use the elementary art room for a Paint Party Fundraiser between 5 and 9 p.m. Jan. 20, 2023.

• The senior high school curriculum guide for the 2023-24 school year.

• The after-school English/ELA and mathematics tutoring program for high school and elementary students. The program will be offered four days a week, between the hours of 3:10 to 4:10 p.m. for high school and 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. for elementary between Jan. 9, 2023, and April 20, 2023. No transportation will be provided. The program will rotate between ELA and mathematics. Two appropriately certified teachers per grade level will be required to staff the program at a rate of $42 per hour, provided through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief grant fund at an amount not to exceed $14,112.

• The activity request from Chad Green to attend the 2023 Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference between Feb. 12 and 15, 2023, at the Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Pocono Manor at a cost of $995.

• The activity request from Patricia Berezansky to attend the 2023 PETE&C at a cost of $1,328.14.

• The activity request from Luke Hamilton to attend Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 3 Band with up to eight eligible students between Feb. 8 and 10, 2023, in DuBois, at a cost of $2,087.

• The activity request from Cullen Stokes to attend the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association Conference between March 21 and 24, 2023, in Hershey, at a cost of $1,640.50.

• The memorandum of understanding by and between The Open Door of Indiana, Pennsylvania, and the United School District to provide crisis-intervention services at no cost to the school district.

• The participation in the Eastern PA Gasoline/Diesel Consortium, managed by Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3, for the 2023-2024 school year.

• The agreement for behavior consultant services between the district and Pathways Human Services of Pennsylvania for the purpose to provide an overall assessment and recommendations on positive behavior intervention and support plan at a cost of $57 per hour not to exceed $5,590. The agreement would be in effect from Jan. 1 to June 1, 2023.

• The acquisition of a floor scrubber at a cost of $17,890, financed by ESSERII grant money.

• Adopting a resolution to implement Act 57 of 2022 in which the tax collectors of the United School District shall waive additional charges for real estate taxes in certain situations beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2023, provided that the taxpayer satisfies the requirements as set forth in the resolution.

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