Public school districts in Pennsylvania are required to adopt a final budget no later than June 30 for each succeeding fiscal year.
Act 1 of 2006 establishes the process which school districts must follow in adopting their budgets. Act 1, as amended by Act 25 of 2011, establishes the maximum percentage that a school district may increase its real estate tax rate without voter referendum or exceptions that must be approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This index is calculated based upon the Pennsylvania statewide average weekly wage and the Federal employment cost index for elementary/secondary schools, which is then adjusted for each district’s market value/personal income aid ratio.
Each fiscal year a school district must choose to either adopt a preliminary general fund budget or adopt a resolution stating that taxes will not be raised above the school district’s adjusted index. A preliminary budget must be adopted no later than 90 days prior to the primary election, and the resolution not to exceed the index must be adopted no later than 110 days prior to the primary election.
The 2021-2022 General Fund Proposed Final Budget
The proposed final budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year projects a 2.9 percent increase in the real estate tax rate over the existing rate for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The Act 1 Index limit for Cornwall-Lebanon for the 2021-2022 fiscal year is 3.8 percent. The proposed increase would raise the millage rate from 15.6367 to 16.0901, amounting to a $73 increase in the real estate tax bill for the median homeowner having an assessed property value of $161,100.
Property tax relief in the amount of approximately $120 is expected to be provided to approved homestead and farmstead property owners on their July 1, 2021 property tax bills. This relief will appear directly on individual tax bills as a reduction in the assessed value of each approved homestead and farmstead property.
Total expenditures are projected to be $87.6 million in the 2021-2022 proposed final budget. The increase in expenditures represents a $6.0 million or 7.4 percent increase from the 2020-2021 budget.
Total revenues in the 2021-2022 proposed final budget are projected to increase by $4.2 million or 5.2 percent from the 2021-2022 budget.
The substantial increase in both total expenditures and total revenues is the result of one time federal funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the nation. This one time federal funding will be used over the next several fiscal years.
The District anticipates using Assigned Fund Balance of $1.3 million to balance the 2021-2022 budget.