Apollo-Ridge to limit any tax hike to 2.8 percent
Any increase in Apollo-Ridge School District property taxes for the 2015-16 school year will not exceed 2.8 percent.
That’s the inflation-based index the state Department of Education established for the district next year through the Taxpayer Relief Act, which became law in 2006 to ease homeowners’ financial burdens by providing school districts with funding from casino gambling revenue.
Whether the district actually raises the real estate tax, and by how much, won’t be determined until spring or early summer. The school board must pass a budget by June 30.
The Education Department calculates indexes each year based on a myriad of factors, including Pennsylvania’s statewide weekly wage average, federal employment costs for elementary and secondary schools and the district’s market value and personal income aid ratio.
On Monday, the Apollo-Ridge School Board formally agreed to limit any tax increase for next school year to within the district’s 2.8 percent index.
“It’s a standard resolution for this time of the year,” said Forrest Schultz, school board vice president. “It allows us the capability to raise taxes anywhere within that index.
“That’s not to say by any means, however, that the district will be raising taxes next year. It is still far too early to tell.”
Last year, the district raised property taxes to the state maximum of 3.1 percent to offset rising costs related to health insurance and retirement rates.
Since the district straddles the Armstrong-Indiana county line, it uses a state equalization formula to determine tax rates in each county when increases take effect.
Based on those calculations, the increase raised taxes in Armstrong County, where about 80 percent of its residents live, by roughly 3.5 percent from 60.8 to 62.9 mills. The increase yielded about $230,000 in total for the district.
District officials won’t begin finalizing a 2015-16 budget until spring.
Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.