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Middletown Area School District cuts back on projected tax increase, to 1.9 percent

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/13/18

A proposed 3.1 percent tax increase for Middletown Area School District residents for 2018-19 has been reduced to 1.9 percent, and new development at Harrisburg International Airport is part of the …

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Middletown Area School District cuts back on projected tax increase, to 1.9 percent

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A proposed 3.1 percent tax increase for Middletown Area School District residents for 2018-19 has been reduced to 1.9 percent, and new development at Harrisburg International Airport is part of the reason why.

The reduction means that instead of a $68.66 increase on every $100,000 of assessed value for a property in the school district, the increase will be $42.39 per $100,000, district Chief Financial Officer David Franklin told the school board on June 5.

The cutting isn’t done yet, Franklin said, telling the Press & Journal that the district will keep working “to see if there are additional changes that could be made that could lower it further” between now and June 19.

Franklin cited two main reasons for the district being able to lower the tax increase from the 3.1 percent that had been proposed when the board approved the budget for advertisement in May.

First, the district plans to defer for a year hiring a new full-time special education facilitator, resulting in a savings of $125,000 in salary and benefits.

The district is hoping that programs, such as the proposed new Middletown Area Therapeutic Elementary Support program, or MATES, will lead to reduced “demands” being placed upon the district when it comes to special education, Franklin said.

The facilitator position was one of nine new positions that the school district has proposed for the 2018-19 school year, which is driving the need for what would be the district’s first property tax increase since 2014-15.

Five of the nine new positions are to support MATES, a program for at-risk students from all three district elementaries that is to be housed at Fink Elementary School in Middletown.

Otherwise, the district expects to receive about $120,000 more in new property tax revenue starting in 2018-19 because of four development projects on HIA, which is located in Lower Swatara Township.

In two cases, land located on HIA that was tax-exempt has been put on the tax rolls by Dauphin County. One is for a commercial/industrial property at 517 Airport Drive owned by CRS Realty of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The second is for commercial/industrial property at 100 Airport Drive owned by Aero Harrisburg LLC of Annapolis, Maryland, according to county tax records.

In addition, the county recently increased the assessed value for the property at 298 Airport Drive upon which is located a United Parcel Service modular distribution facility constructed in 2016.

The county also recently increased the assessment on the property at 515 Airport Drive where Select Medical completed construction of its new hangar in 2018.

The total assessed value of all property in the school district has gone up by $5.8 million, with the four projects on HIA accounting for most of that, Franklin said.