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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 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 .

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 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. . 

 

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william atwell May 22, 2012 at 04:18 PM
The USC school board gone wild! We need to fire these school board members and elect people who will truly scrutinize every dollar being spent! Every program should be looked at. The poor teachers better watch there pocket books or this school board may be reaching in there pocket again! This school board has no honor!
KLL May 22, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I do not understand how the township can increase any taxes in a reassessment year? What am I not understanding about the "winfall" rule? Does it only apply to the county taxes because those are a pittance compared to the school tax!?!? Is the school board even factoring in the additional money they will be getting from the increases in assessed values?!?!?
Lynne May 22, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Can't get blood from a rock!! How about planting money trees around the schools!!
PK3 May 22, 2012 at 11:05 PM
when gov't has a surplus in money it means gov't took to much money. Gov't should not have a savings account. This is not a surprise from this USCSB. START TO VOTE THEM OUT ONE BY ONE IN 2013.
Bill Sota May 23, 2012 at 11:34 AM
OK no one likes a tax increase. But if you look at what we are sending per student it is often the same or lower than poorer performing school districts. We have the top performing school district in the state. This helps our students get into the colleges of their choice. Please keep these factors in mind.
Tom May 23, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Soooo true Bill! If you are looking to blame someone, blame Gov. Corbett for cutting funds to all public schools and increasing funding to charter schools. Let's vote this bum out of office. USC school board does the best they can with the little money Corbett gives. This is Corbett's master plan to turn every public school into a charter school, even USC
Jay Bahr May 23, 2012 at 12:40 PM
You are laughable – Where does Corbett get “his money?” From thin air?? Your solution is to pay more state income taxes to not have to raise my local school taxes? Either way I am paying MORE TAXES BECAUSE OF MORE SPENDING!! Thank God for Corbett – he is trying to do the best he can within the resources and the needs of the Commonwealth. My wife and I do this everyday – it is called living within you means. What is so hard to understand????
Jay Bahr May 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Great life lesson to teach our kids. “You live in St. Clair . . . you are better than everyone else and Mommy & Daddy will keep paying out the nose to keep it that way.”
Lou May 23, 2012 at 12:52 PM
WAKE UP USC! NOTHING WILL CHANGE UNTIL THE 9 BOARD MEMBERS CHANGE! These 9 irresponsible board members voted to make Streams all IB. Cutting IB and sticking to the award-winning USC curriculum would cut the budget $300,000-a permanent savings EACH YEAR. Early in the budget process, the Business Director indicated a bond refunding would offset the retirement rate. Bond refunding is NOT a permanent cut, therefore, when budgeting for the 2013-2014 year the District is ALREADY FACING A DEFICIT. As for the retirement rate increase there is no one to blame but the Business Director and Superintendent (Superintendent of the YEAR!). A PSERS Press Release, dated DECEMBER 12, 2008, documents the significant employer retirement rate increase for the 2012-2013. It clearly is a warning of the impact this increase will have on districts. At the time of this publication, the projected employer’s retirement rate was 16.40%. The approved rate for the 2012-2013 school year is 12.36%. This information was told to all and ignored by USC. With knowledge of this increase, USC negotiated contracts that have put USC in the distressed financial situation we are facing today. Why is the fund balance not being used to close the gap? While that should be a last resort it sounds like we are there. How about the Debt Service Fund? One thing is for sure – to put USC back in good financial standing VOTE OFF the 9 board members that ignorance and alliance with IB are killing the District.
Lou May 23, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Take a look at this chart that lists how each school district is affected by Corbett's budget cuts: http://www.scribd.com/doc/50477968/School-Spending-Cuts-by-District. The amount that USC receives is minimal compared to the other districts. USC administration is whining about it in hopes that residents will blame Corbett instead of them. Get rid of the IB and save $300,000 EVERY YEAR!!!
Tax Payer May 23, 2012 at 03:07 PM
FIRE THEM!!!!! The spending is OUT OF CONTROL! The school board has no restraint. Our kids would have been well educated without new buildings, million dollar fields and IB programs. If we give them more tax money, their eyes will glaze over with the spending possibilities. FIRE THEM ONE BY ONE!
robert redinger jr May 23, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I agree! Let's vote out these irresponsible "tax and and spend" board members! They're very good at spending OTHER peoples money!
Robert A. Shoaf May 23, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Nothing surprising here; just more fiscal irresponsibility from a school board that is LONG overdue for replacement. However, the uncaring, or unthinking voters of USC continue to re-elect these rubber stamps for the teachers union! Yes, the school district is highly rated, blah, blah,, blah....., but when do the constant tax increases ever end? And don't blame it on Corbett, a convenient, and, in USC's case, inaccurate whipping boy for the intellectually lazy. The spendthrift school board needs to swept out of office, as soon as possible, but I am dubious that it will happen. Too many folks in this township are arrogant,and view with disdain anyone asking for budget cuts, or at least, more fiscal responsibilty and rational thought, instead of "let's just raise taxes."
Glenn Robinson May 23, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I seriously question the per student spending. There are numbers in the latest annual report that do not support the claimed per student numbers. I would like to konw what expenses were not counted in that figure. I also question the wisdom of spending additional monies on IB in the face of this budget crunch.
Bill Sota May 23, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I was quoting the per student spending figures from the latest Pittsburgh Business Times analysis.
Becky Brindle June 01, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Here's a look at what's happening in other nearby school districts: http://patch.com/A-tHtq

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