By MARCELLA PEYRE-FERRY
For 21st Century Media
LOWER OXFORD - There could be a tax increase coming for residents in the Oxford Area School District, but if millage rates go up, they will not increase by more than 2.9 percent.
The school board met on Wednesday, Jan 29, for their regular meeting, rescheduled from the Jan. 21 date, which was cancelled due to snow. One of the main items on the agenda was the tax rate certification resolution. According to Act One legislation, school districts must resolve to limit any tax increase to the percentage rate dictated by the state’s index. For Oxford, that rate for the 2014-15 school year is 2.9 percent.
“What this is saying is that the Oxford Area School Board will not raise taxes higher than the Act 1 index,” Board president Donna Arrowood said. “It does not mean we will raise it to that, but we will not raise it more than that.”
The first draft of the budget totals over $61 million, going up approximately $2.9 million, for a 5 percent increase over all. By passing the resolution, the district now has until May to approve a preliminary budget and June to adopt a final version. If the board wanted to enact a budget with a greater rate increase, the time line for the budget approval process would have had to be accelerated and could have required a referendum.
The board is still working on the budget, with a committee meeting set for Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. Increasing health care premiums and escalating PSERS retirement plan contribution rates are upward pressures on the budget that are predicted for several years to come.
Another resolution with a financial impact was a parameters resolution that set out guidelines and gave authorization for the district to refinance up to $12,250,000 of its bond issues. The exact amount of savings will not be known until after the transaction takes place, but the parameters set out a minimum savings of at least 3 percent. Any action on the refinancing of the bonds will wait until market figures fit the parameters. If the bonds can be refinanced at a rate of 2.62 percent, the savings to the district would be $280,000. If lower bond rates are available, the savings could be even greater.
January is School Board Recognition month, and Superintendent David Woods asked the community to thank their school board members for all the work they do for the district without pay.