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Homer-Center School District approves $18.9 million budget; no tax increase | News

Homer-Center School District board members approved the district’s final budget of $18,911,934, with no tax increase, for the 2022-23 fiscal year during a regular board meeting Thursday.

The final budget was approved 7-1, with board member Jim McLoughlin being the only member to vote against it.

McLouglin, who returned to the board in May after leaving in November 2021, said he did not vote to approve the budget because he “was not present to work through the numbers” due to his six-month absence.

In the final budget, the board approved adopting a 16.76 mileage rate as well as levying a 0.9 percent wage tax, a 0.5 percent real estate transfer tax and a $5 local service tax.

In addition to no tax increase, board president Michael Bertig said residents will pay less in taxes due to an increase in homestead/farmstead tax exclusions, in which property taxes are reduced for eligible home and farm owners.

“That hasn’t happened in our school district, or any school district around here, I think, in a long time,” Bertig said. “Because of the increase people are receiving through the homestead farmstead exemption, plus no tax increase from Homer-Center, that will actually reflect less money that people will be paying in taxes.”

Homer-Center business manager Gregg Kalemba, who prepared the budget, said the increase in homestead/farmstead money the district received, from $390,000 to $490,000, could have residents paying around $60 less in taxes.

“For all the qualifying homeowners and farmstead owners, if I remember correctly, I believe it’s about $62 more in relief, which means $62 less (qualifying residents) would have to pay in taxes this year,” Kalemba said. “That’s covered out of that pot of money, the $490,000.”

Kalemba said the budget’s current deficit is around $1.1 million, but he explained that the deficit does not indicate an unbalanced budget. He said about half of that $1.1 million deficit, $566,000, reflects budgetary reserves for unanticipated costs. Kalemba also said the budget does not reflect the increase in government funding for basic and special education, which would be an additional $400,000 to $600,000 the district would receive.

“When you look at that increase in basic education funding along with the reserve, I mean, we’re right around what we hope and anticipate is a balanced budget, which is the main reason for no tax increase this year,” Kalemba said.

In other news Thursday, the board approved granting tenure to fourth-grade English Language Arts teacher Casey Carnahan and fifth-grade math teacher Levi McCracken for successfully completing three years of satisfactory service in the school district.

“That’s always a good milestone,” Bertig said, “to get tenure after your third year. So, congratulations to both of you for that.”

Also Thursday, the board approved a number of motions, including:

• Approving the proposal from Encova Insurance to provide the district’s workers compensation insurance for the 2022-23 school year at a premium of $45,801, a decrease of $23,219 from last year

• Increasing the pay for substitute teachers

• Approving Deanne Magolis and Suzanne Mateer to attend the Adolescent Literacy Institute at Allegheny IU 3 on Oct. 18; Dec 1; Jan 12, 2023; and Feb. 14, 2023, at a cost of $1,200

• Approving Deanne Magolis and Suzanne Mateer to attend Word Wizards at Allegheny IU 3 on Oct. 17; Dec 7; and Feb. 1, 2023, at a cost of $900

• Approving Wendy Williams to attend the 2022 Special Education Leadership Academy on July 19-21 at Steven Springs at a cost of $573

• Band trips between June 11 and Nov. 12 or 13

• Approving the annual wage increases of 2.9 percent for central office administrative secretaries for the 2022-23 school year

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