The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

June 18, 2014

Danville school tax increase, but rates drop for some

DANVILLE — Some Northumberland County residents of the Danville Area School District will see a slight decrease in their property tax for next school year, even though they are still paying more property tax on average than Montour County school district residents.

The changed values follow the school board voting to raise property taxes by 2.5 percent during their June 10 board meeting. According to district business manager Janis Venna, the average property owner in Montour County will see an increase of $36 for their property tax, based on Montour County’s median assessed property value of $121,950.

Residents in Northumberland County will see a decrease of $9 based on that county’s median assessed property value of $22,545.

Those changes bring the total real estate tax bill for a median Montour County property to $1,304.67 compared to $1,387.99 for a median Northumberland County property, Venna said.

The disparity between the median assessed property values is due to Northumberland County not reassessing property values for several years, Venna said.

The total real estate tax owed by property owners is calculated using a state-mandated formula from the State Tax Equalization Board meant to equalize millage rates, Venna said.

The Montour County median assessed property value of $121,950 is more recent than the median property value of $104,400 mentioned during the board’s June 10 meeting. The school board voted 7-2 to raise the property tax value to cover a projected deficit of $318,019 in their budget for the 2014-2015 school year. At that same meeting, the board unanimously passed the $34.987 million budget. With the tax increase, the budget is fully balanced.

Voting against the tax increase were board members Joe Stemm and Randy Keister.

Keister suggested switching all the district’s coaches to volunteers, instead of paid positions. The district budgeted $259,900 for coaching salaries for the 2014-2015 school year.

Stemm suggested making up the deficit in the still open teacher’s contract. He also noted that Midd-West school district is likely to not increase taxes and instead will dip into its fund reserve to cover a projected deficit of $530,000. While Stemm was clear he wasn’t criticizing Venna’s recommendation to raise the real estate taxes, he did believe Danville could do something similar with its own fund reserve since both districts are of a similar size and similar budgets for next school year. If anything, Danville is probably in better financial shape than Midd-West, he said.

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