Central Dauphin School Board increases taxes in new budget

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Central Dauphin School District passed a budget on Monday night that will raise property taxes.

Board members had been negotiating the budget for several weeks. The major challenge they faced was trying to make up for the $11 million shortfall the district is facing.

There were heated moments at the meeting as board members went back and forth over the proposed budget.

One of the main arguments was over the 3.6% property tax included to help make up for the shortfall.

Board member Eric Epstein suggested a different budget that wouldn’t raise taxes and instead would rely on the district’s reserves to balance the budget.

“I suggested surviving and advancing for our taxpayers. This would be the 2nd tax increase in 12 months. I stand by that,” Epstein said.

Board member Ryan Gonder called that plan irresponsible and advocated instead for the original budget.

“I believe it is our fiduciary duty to provide a budget that protects our students and taxpayers long term, not just puts a bandaid on it for a year without any accountability as to how it will be fixed next year,” Gonder said.

Other board members also raised concerns about increasing taxes, but ultimately the budget passed.

Board President Ford Thompson pointed out that based on the average property value Central Dauphin families would be paying an extra $7 in taxes per month. It’s a cost he believes is worth it.

“Every board I’ve served on, not one member of those boards over many years has ever wanted to raise anyone’s taxes. Never has that happened,” Thompson said. “However, most members, a majority over all those years have recognized a small amount is necessary for the security and financial health of this district.”

Earlier in the process board members were also considering teacher furloughs during their budget discussions. They reached an agreement with the teacher’s union and no furloughs are included in the budget that passed.

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