Penn Hills school budget draft contains tax hike, estimated $5 million shortfall
The 2018-19 preliminary budget adopted by the Penn Hills school board last week includes a 1.9093-mill property tax increase and is in the red by an estimated $5 million.
Board President Erin Vecchio voted against adoption of the proposed spending plan. Director Denise Graham-Shealey was absent from the meeting.
The tax increase would bring the levy to 29.4663 mills. The hike means the owner of a $75,000 home would pay an additional $113 in taxes annually.
“We can't keep doing this to the taxpayers in Penn Hills,” Vecchio said.
Superintendent Nancy Hines said the district must look at everything to get its finances in order. No program cuts have been proposed thus far.
Treasurer Robert Marra said he wants to focus on cash flow projections to ensure the district continues to make payroll.
“I'm very confident that the numbers are accurate,” he said. “They may not be what we want to see.”
The proposed budget lists revenues at roughly $88.2 million and expenditures at $93.3 million.
Penn Hills raised taxes by 1.5 mills in 2016-17 after receiving approval from the state Department of Education to raise the millage above the Act 1 index, citing additional expenses for special education and retirement costs. The index is a formula that limits tax increases. The district is about $172 million in debt — most coming from the construction of the elementary and high school. The district also spent nearly $6 million over budget last year and approximately $500,000 over budget in 2015-16.