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No tax increase in district's draft budget

| Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 8:33 p.m.

The Jeannette School Board voted Monday night to approve a preliminary 2013-14 budget that calls for no tax hike.

Late last month, the board was working on a budget that called for a 1-mill tax increase. This week, the board rejected the idea of raising taxes and voted instead to hold the line on the budget.

The board's first vote Monday was for a 1-mill tax increase, but it failed 7-2. Moe Lewis and Dr. David Valerio voted in favor of the motion, with the understanding that the board would work until the June final approval to eliminate that tax increase.

Instead, the board decided unanimously to make a motion to pass a budget with no increase. What that means is the board must trim about $47,500 from the budget that was presented this week. Superintendent Matthew Hutcheson said the preliminary budget should be ready by the end of this week for residents to review.

At least one more budget discussion meeting will be scheduled, Hutcheson said, to refine the spending plan.

If the budget remains the same, the millage will stay at 82.72 mills. The final budget will be approved at the board's June 17 meeting at 8 p.m. in the administration building.

“I want to commend the board for the work that we've done,” said Hutcheson. “We'll go into next year with a zero mill (increase) and no funds (used) from reserves.”

Board member Randy Highlands addressed the principals and administrators at the meeting and said, “If we can change it to get some of the items you've requested, we will.”“We finally have an administration that works together as a team,” said board president Joseph Yorio.

Hutcheson said after the meeting the biggest concern for the board is hoping that the state won't reduce the amount of funding it plans to send to Jeannette. He said the increase in state funding over last year is planned to be $89,000 and if that figure decreases, working toward a balanced budget without a tax increase or the use of reserve funds will be more difficult.

An earlier budget meeting held last month made board members nervous as a computer glitch had created what seemed like a $1.3 million deficit despite a potential millage increase. Board member Mark Gogolsky said Monday night after that situation was rectified everyone involved in building the budget had to work hard together to lower the remaining deficit.

Board member Patricia Caralli said this draft budget is “good for the community and the school district. Hopefully we'll be able to get ourselves in position to move forward from here. Last year I felt we were close and this year we're even closer.

“Our whole position here is to keep people in Jeannette and to keep our teachers employed.”

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

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