The Trinity Area School Board on Thursday adopted a $63,743,330 budget that includes a modest tax increase for the 2021-22 school year.
To meet budgetary requirements, the board approved increasing the millage rate by .25 mills, from 13.65 to 13.90.
Taylor Hott, director of Fiscal Services, said the increase will result in an increase of $25 for a house assessed at $100,000.
“We are trying to maintain fiscal responsibility for future growth,” said Hott, referring to the school district’s plans to build an intermediate school for fourth- and fifth-graders to address growing student enrollment.
Hott said the school district did not raise taxes last year because it believed it was unfair to taxpayers because of uncertainty due to the pandemic.
Among the largest costs are special education, rising contribution rate toward the Public School Employees’ Retirement System, and the district’s police department.
The district has earmarked $8.8 million for special education costs; $9.3 million for PSERS, the amount the school district contributes to employees’ pensions; and $500,000 for the police department, which is comprised of eight officers, including a K-9 officer.
Combined, the special education and PSERS costs account for more than 28% of the district’s budget.
The PSERS board in December approved an employer contribution rate of 34.94% for 2021-22, up from last year’s 34.51% rate.
“When the state set these kinds of rates, it hurts us,” said Hott.
The school district continues to grow its fund balance, which ended 2020 at $5.8 million.
“That’s our goal, to continue to grow the fund balance so that if something like the pandemic happens, our school district is in a good financial position,” said Hott.