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Some millage up, some down in Norwin

| Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 4:11 a.m.

Depending on where you live in Norwin School District, your real estate taxes could rise or fall in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

District officials plan to hike the Westmoreland County millage by .65 mills and pull roughly $554,000 from the district surplus to balance the 2013-2014 preliminary budget.

District director of business affairs John Wilson presented the financial plan at Monday night's workshop meeting.

Wilson said reassessments in Allegheny County will force a 3.77-mill reduction for 21 property owners in White Oak and South Versailles Township who pay Norwin taxes under Allegheny County court order.

He said Norwin cannot raise its millage in Westmoreland County any higher than 0.65 mills. Previously the school board planned a 1.5 mill increase allowed under the state's Act 1 index. Wilson said the Allegheny County cap trumps the state's index.

The projected millage rate for next year's budget is roughly 9.6 mills in Allegheny County, and 69.1 mills in Westmoreland County.

Wilson noted Norwin has the lowest millage rate among Westmoreland County school districts, and has been the lowest or second lowest for each of the past 10 years.

Tentative budget figures list revenue at $60,090,000 and expenses at $61,463,000 without the use of the fund balance.Wilson said the projected fund balance is $4.05 million as of June 30, and it's expected to rise to $4.27 million at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Revenue is projected to increase by 4.1 percent and expenses by 4.3 percent for the 2013-14 school year, according to the presentation.

The proposed budget includes eight professional retirements and two resignations, with three of the professional positions not being replaced.

It also contains a reduction in hours for part-time workers, but no further cuts in academic or athletic programs, Wilson said.

District officials were considering consolidating middle school athletic teams and moving ninth-grade teams to the junior varsity level.

Wilson said that is no longer on the table.

He said cuts in all levels of staffing are on the table, along with commercial real estate appeals, increased investment earnings, licensing of district apparel to Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods, a new copier lease at a lower cost, and possible reductions of workers' compensation premiums, special education tuition and all levels of staffing.

Projected local revenues include $25,491,000 in real estate taxes, $2,070,000 in delinquent taxes, $5,289,000 in other taxes and $1,301,000 in other local revenue.

State revenue includes $15,330,000 in basic education subsidy, $2,511,000 in special education subsidy, $950,000 in property tax reduction, $2,587,000 in retirement subsidy, $1,174,000 in Social Security subsidy, $1,191,000 in debt service subsidy and $224,000 in other state subsidies.

Projected expenses include $28.5 million for salaries, $13.4 million for benefits, $6.7 million for debt service, $3.5 million for transportation, $1.8 million for maintenance, $1.7 million for out-of-district placement, $1.9 million for special education, $1.3 million for building, athletic and student activities allocations, $903,000 for technology and $1.8 million for miscellaneous costs.

School directors are expected to approve the preliminary budget at next Monday's regular meeting. Wilson said it will be advertised and available for public comment by May 22. A proposed final budget is planned for June 10 with final budget adoption set for June 19.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or