Deer Lakes School Board schedules tax increase vote
The Deer Lakes School Board will vote next week on whether to increase taxes by 1.7 percent for the 2013-14 school year.
Business Manager Dennis Thimons presented a $32.1 million spending plan Tuesday. It would increase the district's millage in its 2013-14 budget from 22.02 to 22.39.
Even with the tax increase, the budget contains a $210,000 deficit. Without the hike, the deficit would be about $533,000.
Reserve funds would be used to cover the deficit.
The budget represents about a $730,000 increase over this year.
“I would strongly request we do increase millage,” Thimons said.
Payments to the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) are set to increase by 30 percent for next school year.
“PSERS, it's deadly,” Thimons said, “and it's only going to get worse, and we are headed for some real trouble,”
Given current costs, Thimons said if the board does nothing to curb expenses or bring in more revenue, five years from now the district could be about $8 million in the red.
The property tax revenue calculations are estimates due to Allegheny County's reassessment, said Thimons. About 200 properties in the district are in the appeals process and collection rates typically decline in reassessment years.
“This is my best guess given the history,” he told board members.
The district is not permitted to collect a windfall of taxes following a reassessment, so the district must adjust millage accordingly.
Board members said they're concerned about the district's ability to survive given expenses, the stagnant tax base and that the board tries to keep up by increasing property taxes.
“We have a cost structure we can't afford,” said board President Lisa Merlo.
She said she hasn't made up her mind about whether she'll support the tax increase.
“Maybe getting a tax increase now will buy us some time to generate ideas going forward,” she said. “My goal was to get people thinking. This is going to a very important vote.”
The board will vote on the proposed budget on Monday.
The board is considering implementing additional school safety measures that were outlined at a safety workshop in February.
District architect HHSDR Architects/Engineers provided plans to secure the middle school and East Union Intermediate and Curtisville Primary entrances.
The construction costs total an estimated $120,000, with $35,000 for design fees and permits. The modifications would funnel visitors directly into the office.
Deer Lakes High School already has such an entrance.
The renovations include new door access-control hardware, aluminum or hollow metal entrance frames and doors and wall, floor and ceiling modifications.
If the project began next January, construction would be completed in August.
Board members were divided on the effectiveness of the renovations.
“In the beginning I really wanted to do this,” Merlo said. “Then, the more I thought about it, if we have a system that's working right now and they're outside and they can't get in, then how does that differ from letting someone in halfway and then you address them there?”
Garry Dixson, the district's director of buildings and grounds, said if the board wants to take measures to improve security, entrance improvements are the most economical option.
The district is considering spending about $6,400 to install security software in all four schools. Web-based technology from Raptor Technologies, of Houston, Texas, allows schools to scan a visitor's driver's license or other state-issued identification and the system instantly checks sex-offender registries nationwide. It can also screen for restraining orders or custody issues that would prohibit someone from picking up or visiting a child.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Long-awaited bridge expected to be completed in June
- Filming for Cinemax TV series to divert traffic in Allegheny Township
- Volunteers devote day to furthering projects in A-K Valley
- Indiana Township couple face illegal prescription charges
- FirstEnergy halfway into 72-day, $60 million upgrade of Springdale facility
- Gas industry, rural character top Winfield candidates’ list
- Leechburg man held for trial in fatal wreck
- Driver allegedly disrupts fire scene in Kiski Township
- Driver of pickup truck dies following crash into New Kensington house
- State’s homeless rate begins to decrease
- CMU astronomer lectures to Highlands students about space in pilot program