The North Hills School District Board of Education unanimously approved the proposed final budget for the 2023-24 school year at its committee meeting with action on Thursday, April 27. The meeting was held in the LGI Room at the North Hills Middle School.
The proposed budget has revenues and expenditures of $96,724,003 and includes a real estate tax increase of .18 mills. One mill is one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value.
With the proposed increase, North Hills’ millage rate would go from 19.70 to 19.88 mills and homeowners with a home valued at $150,000 would pay $27 more per year or $2.25 per month.
The tax increase would generate an additional $500,000 in revenues to allow for the transfer of $500,000 to the Capital Projects Fund. Transferring $500,000 to this fund is something the district aims to do annually, however there is no additional funding to complete a transfer without this proposed tax increase.
The .18 mills or .92 percent increase is less than the maximum amount allowed (.95 miles or 4.8 percent) and significantly less than last year’s increase of .66 mills.
“Our goal every year is to make sure we are asking for the lowest possible increase that will enable us to educate and serve our students and maintain our properties at the level our community expects,” Board of Education President Allison Mathis said.
The proposed budget includes the addition of a high school learning support teacher needed due to increased enrollment in the special education population and a fifth grade teacher at McIntyre Elementary due to an additional section needed for the incoming fifth grade class.
“Personnel additions to the budget are taken cautiously as they have a long term impact and this year’s proposed budget contains just a couple of positions, necessary for growing enrollment,” Mrs. Mathis continued. “We evaluated additional administrators, counselors and support personnel, however, those positions are not included in the proposed budget at this time.”
The budget fully funds all requests made through the district’s Curriculum Council for the third straight year.
The proposed budget uses $1.1 million or approximately 38 percent of the district’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund. The remaining available COVID-19 relief funding, approximately 23 percent, is projected to be used in the 2024-25 budget.
Prior to Thursday's board vote, NHSD Director of Finance Jerry Muth gave an overview of the proposed final budget during which he further explained why this tax increase is fiscally responsible so the district doesn’t find itself in a situation in future years where the gap between projected expenditures and projected revenues is so wide that even the maximum tax increase allowed under the Act 1 Index would close.
"This would necessitate the need to cut programs in order to balance the budget so even a modest tax increase in any given year will provide a consistent source of revenue in succeeding years,” he explained, concluding, “Real estate taxes continue to be the most consistent and primary source of revenue for the district and each year taxes are not raised, a recurring source of revenue is foregone."
The proposed final budget is now available for public inspection for 30 days at the district’s administration center located at 135 Sixth Avenue in Ross Township, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
A final public budget meeting, during which the final budget will be discussed, is set for Tuesday, May 2 at Ross Elementary School.
The final budget for the 2022-23 school year will be up for approval at the school board's meeting on June 1.