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Carlisle board agrees to cap any tax increase for 2021-22 to 3.9%
Carlisle Schools

Carlisle board agrees to cap any tax increase for 2021-22 to 3.9%

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Carlisle Area School District

Pictured is the entrance to Carlisle High School at 623 W. Penn St., Carlisle.

Carlisle Area School Board passed a resolution Thursday setting a limit of 3.9% as the maximum property tax increase for 2021-22.

A final vote on a possible tax hike is still eight months away as the district is only starting its budget review cycle for next school year. In a typical cycle, the Carlisle board considers a preliminary budget in May followed by final adoption in June.

State law requires each school district to decide early in the review cycle whether it intends to seek exceptions under Act 1 that broaden the authority of school boards to increase the property tax millage beyond the Act 1 index adjusted rate.

There was no support among Carlisle board members at a recent finance committee meeting to seek Act 1 exceptions that account for year-to-year increases in special education costs and the local contribution the district makes to the Pennsylvania Public School Employee’s Retirement System.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education set the base index rate at 3% for all school districts across the state, committee chairman Bruce Clash said. Adjustments were then made based on personal income and the market value of real estate to account for the level of wealth within each district, he said.

Data on the adjusted rates is posted on the Education Department’s website. Of the nine school districts in Cumberland County, Carlisle and Shippensburg have a rate of 3.9% followed by Big Spring and East Pennsboro at 3.7%, Mechanicsburg at 3.6%, Camp Hill at 3.5%, and Cumberland Valley and South Middleton at the base rate of 3%.

The 3.9% is the highest rate in years for Carlisle, Clash said.

He said 3.77% is the average rate for the 24 school districts within the Capital Area Intermediate Unit that serves Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties along with the Northern York County School District.

Business Manager Jenna Kinsler was among the Carlisle administrators who recommended that the school board pass a resolution now to set the cap on the property tax millage.

“It provides more time to prepare a detailed and accurate budget for 2021-2022 after the governor’s state budget for 2021-2022 is released in early February 2021,” Kinsler wrote in a memo to the board.

Applying for Act 1 exceptions would dramatically accelerate the budget cycle for Carlisle, requiring the board to approve a preliminary fiscal plan in January or February, Clash said. “There is no appetite in this room for doing that.”

Photos: First day of school at Wilson Middle School in Carlisle

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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