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Bethel Park raises taxes

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By Eric Eisert
Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

The Bethel Park School Board adopted a tax increase that amounts to 0.45 mills, to fund a 2013-14 budget that increases spending by nearly $3 million.

School directors on Tuesday passed the spending plan of more than $76 million, although Ron Sustich voted against the millage rate of almost 21.86 mills. Russ Spicuzza and David Amaditiz didn't attend the meeting.

Under the budget, property owners will pay $2,186 for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

Sustich objected to spending $255,000 from the district's reserve fund.

“I'm very concerned that we are spending more of our fund balance than we need to,” said Sustich, who attended the meeting via phone. Board President Donna Cook said while tapping financial reserves isn't desirable, fluctuations in expenses could mean none of the balance actually will be used.

The prior year's millage rate was 25.49. Matthew Howard, assistant to the superintendent, said a “revenue neutral” adjustment to that rate that accounts for new Allegheny County property assessments would be about 21.41 mills.

Sustich tried without success to change the rate to about 21.97 mills.

Howard said ongoing assessment appeals and contract negotiations with teachers made budget planning more complicated. Nearly $80 million worth of property still is under appeal.

“All of the big property owners appealed,” Howard said, including South Hills Village and Macy's at the mall.

Salaries, health care costs and state-mandated increases in funding employee pensions accounted for much of the increase in spending, Howard said.

Eric Eisert is a freelance writer.

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