A mill is $1 per $1,000 in assessed property value. A home assessed at $8,500, the district average, carried a bill of $1,759.50 this year. With the 11-mill increase, property owners would pay $93.50, or 5.3 percent, more next year; the average tax bill would be $1,853.
Board members Melvin Benson, Patricia Brown and Florence Sinkler voted against the budget. Benson requested the board approve a 2-mill tax rate cut, reducing taxes to 205 mills. He said the 1992-93 budget was based on underestimated revenues in real estate and the 0.5 percent earned-income tax.
Besides low revenue predictions, Benson said, the tax break could be offset by the district obtaining a waiver to keep its $230,000 owed to taxpayers as part of the state-required tax abatement program approved last fall.
The district has set aside money for the tax abatement, passed by state legislators in August, requiring all districts to return some state money to taxpayers unless the waiver is obtained.
The Pennsylvania School Board Association lost a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court last fall requesting that the rebate provision be thrown out and school districts be allowed to keep the money for their programs.
Centennial has held the abatement money in escrow, said Centennial Business Manager Michael Gross.
Brown agreed with Benson, noting that the district could pass savings onto taxpayers and keep the abatement money. Gross said the district could receive a waiver from the state later this year.
Board Finance Director Bradley Kirsch said it was premature to count on keeping the abatement money. He argued that Benson was not reviewing the entire budget.
"It's a flim-flam . . . games with fund balances," Kirsch said of Benson's proposal.
Gross said the board had been able to reduce the tax increase to 11 mills after getting more than $1 million in state and federal subsidies.
He said the proposed budget was completed in April and did not account for state and federal money owed to the district - and higher than expected
revenues from the 0.5 percent earned-income tax.
Gross said the district estimated receiving $1.1 million in revenue from the earned-income tax enacted last June. However, $1.8 million was received, he said.
Additionally, Centennial recently received $500,000 in federal tax contributions for the Naval Air Warfare Center and base housing in Warminster. It also got $700,000 in special-education money from the state, Gross said.