Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg School District approves 2020-21 budget, deficit eliminated by COVID relief funding

Receiver Janet Samuels speaks at a virtual Harrisburg school board meeting on Monday night.

Harrisburg school district Receiver Janet Samuels gave her approval on Monday night to a $158.2 million district budget for the 2020-21 school year.

The district originally was looking at a $4.2 million deficit in the spending plan due to shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but one-time federal CARES Act funding of $4.7 million filled the gap.

There will be no tax increase this year.

“To be at the point where we have a structurally balanced budget—I’m happy where we are today,” Acting Superintendent Chris Celmer said.

The original deficit projection came with lower expected revenues from earned income taxes, PILOT tax payments, real estate taxes and increases in the state’s basic and special education subsidies, all caused by the pandemic’s economic fallout.

The one-time relief funding may aid the district this year, but could result in a tighter budget next year if the economy doesn’t improve.

The $158.2 million budget compares to a $155 million final budget for the 2019-20 school year. The increased spending is due to increased employee salaries and benefits and other higher expenses.

Business Administrator George Longridge explained the changes to the discount, base and penalty periods of real estate taxes. The tax timing will mirror the city’s, giving taxpayers until Dec. 31 to pay without penalty.

“We are changing a bit because of the stresses of times right now,” he said. “We want to try and provide a little break for the community.”

For more information, visit the Harrisburg School District’s website.



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