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Centennial eyes 4.1% tax hike for next school year

It's the largest tax hike allowed by Act 1


Centennial School District is proposing a 4.1 percent real estate tax hike in light of a growing deficit.

On Jan. 24, Centennial School District presented a budget plan for the 2023-24 school year. The presentation showed the tax increase and a more-than $150,000-deficit which they expect to continue widening in the coming years.

As of November 2022, the school district’s assessed valuation is $565,303,110. The Centennial Education Association has a full step increase at the start of the 2023-24 school year as well as a .75% incremental increase. It also has a recovery of the .2 percent incremental reduction in FY21. The budget has $75,000 in column movement for those attaining educational credit and the opportunity to earn more.

The Act 1 index is the state’s measure for determining property tax increases justified by wage inflation. The Act 1 increase is set a 4.1 percent by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. A 1 percent change in real estate tax is equivalent to $842,196. For the median home value of $334,500, an increase of 4.1 percent equals $155 a year in additional taxes. The salaries for administrative and support staff will increase in line with the Bureau of Labor at 3.7 percent. Health care insurance will also increase to 10 percent. For the first time since 2008, there is a reduction in retirement from 35 percent to 34 percent.

Salaries and benefits make up 71 percent of the preliminary budget. Purchased services including Bucks County Intermediate Unit special education support, out of district placement, Middle Bucks Institute of Technology (MBIT), Charter School tuition and general insurance coverage make up about 16 percent of the expenses. MBIT is holding its budget at 4.1 percent, and the district is waiting for an update on its capital plan as it may need additional funding to support capital initiatives started two years ago. The current contingency is $1 million.

The budget currently shows $136,540,084 in revenue, $140,112,327 in expenses, and a deficit of $3,572,243. The full Act 1 increase would reduce the deficit to $128,252.

As the district moves through to 2028, the deficit is expected to continue to increase. Based on current assumptions, revenues are expected to increase by an average of 3.2 percent. Expenses would grow at about 3.9 percent.