Fox Chapel Area homeowners expect to pay more taxes
By Tawnya Panizzi
Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:11 p.m.
Property taxes in the Fox Chapel Area School District are set to be cut by 2.8 mills but it's likely that most homeowners will still pay a higher tax bill next year because of Allegheny County reassessments.
School board members approved a tentative $90,000 million budget, with a tax rate of 18.7 mills, down from 21.5 mills in 2012-13.
The median home price in the district is $202,300, with an expected increase in assessed value of 16 percent to $236,000. If the owner applied for and received a Homestead exclusion, the home value will be about $226,000, making the tax rate in the 2013-14 school year $4,254. That's up from $4,179 in 2013, despite a then-higher tax rate.
Homeowners and commercial property owners had the right to appeal their new assessment values and as of May 13, there were 2,913 properties in the district at some level of appeal, said Bonnie Berzonski, district coordinator of communications.
The total value of the pending appeals is more than $1 billion, Berzonski said.
“For this reason, the figures presented with regard to millage calculations are subject to change in the final budget that will be approved in June depending on the outcomes of those pending appeals,” she said.
The increase in assessments doesn't mean that the district will make more in tax revenue. Instead, board members are required to reduce the millage rate by a percentage that equals the increased value of assessments, minus any new construction.
Berzonski said the net assessed value of taxable properties for 2013 in the district is about $3.2 billion.
It's an increase of 16.8 percent over last year, she said.
The tentative budget calls for about $85 million in expenses, an increase of 4.5 percent, or $3 million over last year.
Some of the highlights include a 1.42 percent increase in salaries, a 7 percent increase in insurance coverage costs and a 4 percent increase in the district's contribution rate paid to the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS), which translates to an extra $2 million in costs. The district paid $5.1 million last year to the fund and this year is expected to pay $7.3 million.
The district anticipates the pension costs will strain future budgets.
“It is estimated that under the current rate structure proposed for funding the state retirement system (PSERS), the district will pay out nearly $120 million over the next 10 years,” Berzonski said. “These unprecedented increases, combined with the reassessment process in Allegheny County and the limitations on increasing tax rates imposed under Act 1, have necessitated the district to prepare for shortfalls in the budget.”
The district has committed fund balance reserves of $10.2 million to cover the anticipated PSERS increases, she said.
“The district will need to use $2.1 million of these funds in 2013-2014 to bridge the gap in funding for PSERS until the tax rates can keep pace and fund these costs,” Berzonski said.
Some of the ways that board members are combating the cost hike is through payroll reductions and new instructional strategies that are more cost-effective.
At the same time, the district is gearing up for major improvements at the high school, middle school and three elementary schools. The district issued bonds during 2013 and currently holds $46 million to pay for the upgrades. The bonds were structured so that no extra debt service expenses would be required to fund these projects.
Residents can discuss the preliminary budget during a special session at 7 p.m. June 6. Board members also will review it on June 3 and 10, before voting on a final budget during its meeting at 7 p.m. June 17.
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at 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.
- Aspinwall seeks help collecting ticket fees
- O’Hara, Aspinwall, Fox Chapel, Sharpsburg join forces to save on street paving costs
- Volunteers sought to pull weeds from Trillium Trail
- Aspinwall hires part-time officer
- O’Hara votes to seek bids for community center
- Fox Chapel Area students show support for Franklin Regional peers
- Blawnox, Indiana Twp., O’Hara roadwork to commence
- McCormick starred in 3 sports in high school
- Gold medalist shares life lessons with Fox Chapel Area’s Dorseyville Middle School students