PERRYOPOLIS — The Frazier School Board voted to increase the district property tax rate for the 2019-20 school year.

School directors Monday adopted an $18.5 million general fund budget for the upcoming fiscal year and with it raised the district tax rate by 0.6175 mills to help reduce a deficit in the budget.

The millage rate will increase from 18.7149 mills to 19.3324 mills, an increase of 3.3%, the maximum allowed under the state Act 1 index.

For property owners, this represents an annual tax increase of $61.75 for a property assessed at $100,000.

District business manager Kevin Mildren said the increase will generate $164,940 in additional revenue for the district, which is being applied to a budget deficit that exceeded a half-million dollars last month when the board passed its preliminary budget.

Frazier’s tax rate has increased seven consecutive years, with the millage rising 6.0024 mills -- or 45% -- since 2012. The district’s general fund budget has risen from $14.7 million to $18.5 million over that time.

“The tax increase proposed is incremental,” Mildren said during a work session Monday prior to the board’s voting meeting. “I don’t like to do it, but it’s kind of a last resort as far as getting us down to a level that is manageable that leaves us some flexibility in our fund balance and doesn’t put a whole big tax burden on the taxpayers in the district.”

Revenues in the budget, including monies generated from the tax increase, total $18.3 million, leaving the district with a shortfall of $225,876. Mildren said the district awaits final funding allocation amounts from the state Department of Education for the new fiscal year. The district remains hopeful it will see a bump in funding as the state finalizes its education spending, he said.

The remainder of the deficit will be covered by the district’s fund balance, which enters the fiscal year at approximately $738,600.

“It is what it is,” Mildren said of the no-frills budget. “There are no other revenue streams available to us. The expense items have been cut. This (budget) does not have any reductions in programs (or) in staffing levels.”

The $18.5 million spending plan reflects a 2.5% increase over the district’s $18 million 2018-19 budget.

One major expense in the budget, said Mildren, is a rise in cyber charter school tuition that the district will incur, an increase anticipated at $129,000 based on enrollment levels.

The budget and tax increase were each passed unanimously by seven board members in attendance Monday. Directors Tracy Angelo and Lisa Strickler were absent.

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