Tulpehocken Jr/Sr High School

6/29/15 photo by Tim Leedy. Webstock. Tulpehocken Jr/Sr High School

Its coffers bulging with tax revenue from warehouses, the Tulpehocken school board actually lowered property taxes in the last several years.

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, that’s not happening this year.

The school board recently approved a preliminary final budget that holds the line on property taxes, but does not reduce them.

At 26.85 mills, a property assessed at $100,000 will pay about $2,685 in property taxes.

As proposed, the district’s $32.4 million budget for 2020-21 has a deficit of just over $200,000.

Thomas Kowalonek, business manager, said the district will use reserves to make up the shortfall.

The school board is expected to adopt a final budget when it meets June 16 at 7 p.m. at the district administration building in Rehrersburg.

In order to tighten expenses, Kowalonek said the board has chosen not to fill the positions of some retiring teachers.

“We don’t yet know what’s going to happen, but indications are there will be no increases in state funding for basic and special education,” Kowalonek said.

The district also has put on hold a proposal to renovate Tulpehocken Junior-Senior High School, or perhaps build a new one.

Another financial uncertainty involves possible changes in the homestead-farmstead property tax relief program.

The state Department of Education indicated there could be reductions in the state funded program, perhaps as much as 50 percent.

If that happens, Kowalonek said, the homestead-farmstead allocation could have to be cut from an average of $200 to $100.

“This is an unprecedented move at the worst possible time,” Kowalonek said. “We’re screaming about it to the department of education, the administration and others.”

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