Milton Area School District

The sign in front of the Milton middle school and high school.

MILTON — A property tax increase is on the table for next year’s budget for residents of Northumberland County in the Milton Area School District while those in Union County may see a decrease in property taxes.

Milton Area Business Manager Derrek Fink said the proposed increase would keep the district below the Act 1 index of a 5.6 percent increase, which is the maximum allowed by the state for the 2023-24 spending plan. Property owners in Northumberland County could see an increase of 5.57 percent in their millage rates while those in Union County would see a decrease of 1.07 percent in their millage rates.

“During the pandemic, we were able to avoid increasing taxes to the Act 1 index by using our federal aid provided by CARES ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funding,” said Fink. “We are no longer receiving that aid. Now we need to work to offset the deficit that grew due to the increase in supply costs, employee salaries and benefits. The Act 1 Index works as a guide to tell us what is a sustainable and fair amount to use for a potential tax increase.”

The projected revenue for the budget is expected to be $37,851,409, a .27 percent decrease from last year’s budget. Expenditures are projected at $40,334,967, an increase of 5.5 percent from last year’s budget. This leaves a deficit of $2,483,558 that the district needs to fill.

The difference between the two counties’ millage rates is due to the district’s multi-county tax equalization that they are required to complete. Because assessed values greatly increased for Union County taxpayers, the district must decrease their millage rate so that the projected tax levy (revenue) matches that of Northumberland taxpayers, said Fink.

The current millage rate for Northumberland County is 72.3. An increase of 5.57 percent would bring the total millage rate to 76.33. The current millage rate for Union County is 17.7. A decrease of 1.07 percent would bring the total millage rate to 17.51, Fink said.

The annual impact to the median tax amount is $61.05 more in Northumberland County and $17.76 less in Union County, Fink said.

The majority of Northumberland County taxpayers will see less than a $50 increase to their annual bill while the majority of those in Union County will see less than a $50 decrease to their annual bill, said Fink.

School Board President Christine Rantz said the budget is not finalized yet. More discussions will be had between now and final adoption.

“Nobody ever loves raising taxes,” said Rantz. “That’s not something we try to do. Everything is going up, the school district faces the same increases that homeowners and businesses do. We are very fiscally responsible, but to keep up with the increases in everything, small tax increases are typically necessary.”

Rantz said the budget is a “moving target” until the district receives all information about revenue from the state, especially with a new administration this year.

The board will vote on a preliminary budget in February. The final adoption of next year’s budget will be in May.

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