Property taxes prompt heated discussion at Boone School Board

Faced with a possible 3.2-percent property tax increase, several retirees who reside in the Daniel Boone Area School District pleaded withe the school board not to drive them out of their homes.

“We have to sell our homes,” said Nancy Lingenfelter, of 215 North Monocacy Creek Road, speaking for other senior citizens in the district who can no longer afford to pay school property taxes on their homes.

She asked the board to consider that senior citizens are on fixed incomes and cannot continue paying tax increases levied by the board.

“Treat (the district) like your home on a budget, not like an endless money fountain,” she said.

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Board member Tamara Twardowski said residents of all ages have some form of a fixed income and the district has reduced expenses as much as possible.

Her comment encouraging residents to actively save money to pay their property taxes was scoffed at by Lingenfelter and her husband, Bill, as well as by Jay Matz, 455 Hill Road, and by David Poole, also of Hill Road.

“Last year my taxes were more than my property cost,” Matz said.

Matz purchased his property in 1985 for $4,200. He paid $765 a year in property taxes. His annual property taxes are now almost $5,000.

Property owners currently pay $2,970 for every $100,000 of assessed value. If taxes are increased from the current 29.70 mills to 30.68 mills, property owners would pay $3,068 for every $100,000 of assessed value.

“I’m considering moving to Colorado where I don’t have to pay taxes after age 65,” said Matz, adding, “I’m 73 years old now, I have health issues, and I can’t work anymore. The teachers have $75,000 pensions. My pension is $25,000. I’m trying to decide what to cut out of my life to pay my taxes.”

A majority of Daniel Boone School Board members maintained at the June 5 Finance Committee meeting that a 2017-18 tax increase may be necessary to avoid a $2.4 million deficit two years from now.

They said a 3.2 percent tax increase now — to the index of 30.68 mills — would raise $1 million, reducing the $2.4 million to $1.4 million for 2018-19.

“(A remaining) $1.4 million deficit — we can’t cut enough staff to reduce that,” said one board members, asking, “Cut transportation? We only have big numbers left.”

“Bond refinances are gone, the days of $700,00 to $800,000 surprise money are gone,” said board President Michael D. Wolfe.

“Cutting extracurriculars would save $800,000, cutting half-day kindergarten would save $600,000, and that just about gets you there [to a remaining $1.4 million deficit].”

The board’s Committee of the Whole meeting is June 12. The voting meeting is June 19.

Under state law, the board must approve a final 2017-18 budget by June 30.