Proposed Upper St. Clair Budget Raises Taxes By 5.7 Percent
The proposal would raise taxes by 1.375 to 25.475 mills.
In a 7-1 vote, the Upper St. Clair School Board voted for a proposed final budget that would raise taxes by 1.375 mills, with a total millage of 25.475 mills.
That is a 5.7 percent tax increase and equivalent to an extra $275 in taxes per $200,000 assessed home value.
The proposal would bring in more than $1,376,000 in surplus that school board members said they could set aside to help fund the Public School Employees' Retirement System obligation for the 2013-14 school year, which is projected to be nearly $5.3 million.
School Director Louis Oliverio was the only member who voted against the proposed budget.
"I'm opposed to a budget surplus. We should leave the tax dollars with our constituents for another year," Oliverio said.
He said he wants to look at structural changes for next year that may include transportation changes, curriculum adjustments, more fees and examining other revenues.
Both President Rebecca Stern and Vice President Barbara Bolas said surplus is not the right word.
Superintendent Patrick O'Toole agreed.
"I don't look at that as a surplus, I look at it as prudent financial planning," he said.
The district is still in need of tax dollars to pay for the middle school renovations.
Two years ago, the board agreed to raise taxes by .4 mills for four years instead of one lump tax raise of 1.6 mills to fund the construction.
They raised taxes by .4 mills the first year and only .33 mills last year due to the Act 1 index.
Many board members said in hindsight, perhaps they should have raised taxes by 1.6 mills in one year instead of spreading it out.
Bolas moved to raise taxes by 1.25 mills. She said it would cover this year's construction payments and would take back a .75 mills from taxpayers that the board gave to them years ago. She said the board said they may need to take it back one day, and she believes they're in a situation this year that they must.
Stern and Harry Kunselman were the only two other school board members to vote in favor or Bolas' proposal.
Board members Angela Petersen, Amy Billerbeck, Frank Kerber and Buffy Hasco voted in favor of a 1.5 mills increase. A 1.5 mills increase would bring in a $1.5 million surplus and cover the projected $1.5 million deficit for the 2013-14 school budget.
Board members compromised at 1.375 mills.
Louis Mafrice was absent from Monday night's meeting.
The Act 1 index this year is .41 mills. The board is allowed to tax higher than the index because they were granted exceptions from the state for special education, debt and pension expenses.
The school board and administrators will continue to work on the budget and discuss at the committee of the whole meeting on June 11 and the regular meeting on June 18.
A vote on the final 2012-13 budget will take place at 8 a.m. on June 20.
What do you think about the proposed final budget for the 2012-13 school year? Tell us in the comments.
Editor's Note: A PA House panel is considering getting rid of property taxes and raising income and sales tax. Read more here.
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