CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Area School District received a clean bill of health and accepted its annual audit report at Monday night’s board meeting.
According to Katherine Eckley of Walter Hopkins & Co. LLP, the district received an “unmodified” opinion, meaning there were not any discrepancies identified in its financial statements.
As of June 30, 2022, Eckley said the district’s governmental funds reported a combined ending fund balance of $16,433,859, an increase of $1,166,920 from the prior year.
She said approximately $6,618,534 of that amount is available for spending at the government’s discretion while $1,380,645 must be used for capital projects.
She said another $2,753,308 is restricted to satisfy the subsequent year debt obligations, $5,269,878 is committed for the anticipated increases in the PSERS retirement contribution rate, charter/cyber school tuition and health insurance costs collectively and $411,494 has been assigned to satisfy any successful real estate tax appeals resulting in refunds filed by businesses and individual taxpayers.
Eckley said the unassigned fund balance for the general fund was $6,618,534, or 14.51 percent, of the 2021-22 total budgeted general fund expenditures.
Also, during Monday night’s meeting, the board unanimously voted to approve its 2023-24 Act 1 tax resolution.
In June of 2006, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed the “Taxpayer Relief Act,” or Act 1, requiring school districts to limit tax increases to the level set by an inflation index.
The act only allows districts to raise taxes above the index if it’s approved by a voter referendum, or if the district obtains from the state Department of Education (PDE) or court of common pleas certain referendum exceptions.
It also allows districts’ board of school directors to adopt a resolution indicating it will not raise the rate of any tax for the support of the public schools for the following fiscal year by more than its index.
The resolution, however, must be adopted no later than 110 days prior to the date of election immediately preceding the upcoming fiscal year.
The district’s adjusted index for 2023-24 fiscal year is 5.7 percent, according to Business Administrator Sam Maney, which is the equivalent to just under 6 mills.
If the district would raise taxes equal to the index, it could generate $860,000 in revenues but with the district’s collection rate being 90 to 93 percent, Maney said it would be more like $774,000.
The resolution indicates the district has no plans to raise any tax by more than the index and that increasing any tax at a rate less than or equal to the index will be sufficient to balance its final budget.
Now with the resolution being approved, the district is not eligible to seek referendum exceptions or request voters’ approval by referendum to increase a tax rate by more than the index.