BIRDSBORO — Despite adopting a 2020-2021 preliminary budget that raises taxes to the maximum amount allowed by Act 1 — a 5.3 percent tax increase — the Daniel Boone Area School District will show a deficit of $164,720 unless expenses are reduced.

The school board unanimously adopted a preliminary budget of $61,499,323, with 33.2643 mills, which includes the special education exception of .60220 mills.

That is almost a 2-percent increase from the preliminary budget approved in November by the previous board. (School board reorganize in December when newly-elected members are sworn-in).

Business Manager Kathleen Haines said without the 33.2643 tax increase, expenses exceed revenue by $1,980,265.

The yield from 33.2643 mills would be revenue of $1,815,545, leaving the deficit of $164,720.

Board President Julia Olafson said the board’s hard work begins now to reduce expenses and balance the budget.

“Keeping in mind that the budgeting process for the 2020-2021 school year has just begun, and any budget numbers we have are preliminary, at best, we would not have to increase our millage to 33.2643 to keep pace with expenses for next year, as they stand right now.”

If the 33.2643 mills is approved as the final budget, taxpayers would pay $3,326 for every $100,000 of assessed property value, an increase of $168 from the 2019-20 budget.

The current millage rate is 31.584 mills.

All state public school districts are required to adopt final balanced budgets by June 30.

“The Daniel Boone board’s practice for the last five-plus years has been to provisionally approve the highest allowed tax increase in February for the following school year,” said board President Julia Olafson.

“In every year in recent memory, by the time the actual tax millage is set (normally at our voting meeting in June) for the next school year, it has been set at less than the highest allowed.”

“We are doing our best as a board, together with the administration, to look forward in budgeting several years so that any tax increase needed to keep pace with our expenses would be incremental and minimal — if they exist at all.”

She said the budget process for 2020-2021 has just begun and budget numbers are preliminary.

Adding to the uncertainty, state education funding numbers are unspecified until the 2020-2021 state budget is approved.

The board has included nearly the same revenue amounts that it received for 2019-2020: $8.8 million for basic education, and $1.8 million for special education.

Board member John Murray was absent from the meeting.

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