SHARPSVILLE — Sharpsville Area School District could seek permission from the state to increase property taxes by 4 mills.

The school board could vote tonight on a preliminary proposed budget for 2019-20, including a request from the state Department of Education to increase property taxes by more than the inflation index of 3.4 percent. The preliminary general fund budget of 2019-20 would set the overall estimated expenditures at $18,760,067, compared to the 2018-19 budget of $18,077,170, according to school documents.

If approved, the district could increase property taxesto 82.5 mills from 78.5 mills. With Sharpsville Area’s average assessed property value at $17,250, the change could increase the average property tax bill by $69 to $1,423.13.

Under state law, school districts must adopt a proposed preliminary budget, which could be a board resolution not to raise taxes beyond the inflation index, file for a referendum or petition the Department of Education for permission to increase taxes beyond the index without a referendum by filing for exceptions to the spending limits.

Sharpsville will likely pursue the third option, said Senior Business Manager Jaime Roberts.

The board voted, 8-1, in December to reject the 3.4 percent limit, which would restrict Sharpsville to a tax increase of 2.669 mills. 

Instead, school officials can submit the preliminary budget to the state for an exception to exceeding the 3.4 percent tax index, Roberts said. The proposed 4-mill tax hike would be an increase about 5 percent.

“If you don’t do that, then you can file for exceptions to that rule,” Roberts said of the index.

Sharpsville plans to file for an exception to cover increased expenditures on its special education programs, Roberts said.

He said the district will make its request based on increased costs in the last two years. The state allows districts to seek exceptions for programs whose expenditures have increased beyond the index limit.

Roberts said Sharpsville could either apply for the exception or file for a referendum in May.

“We’re following this timeline so that all of the options are available to us,” she said.

The school board also opted to allocate 1 mill of tax revenue, about $60,000, for technology, including the purchase of Chromebooks to every student in seventh, eighth and ninth grades. 

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