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West Jefferson Hills board approves budget

| Friday, June 28, 2013, 2:36 a.m.

Despite appeals still outstanding on more than 10 percent of the current total assessed value of property in West Jefferson Hills School District, the directors approved a $40.3 million 2013-14 budget with an 18.104-mill tax rate on Thursday.

It includes what effectively is a tax hike, even though the tax rate is nearly 3 mills lower than in 2012-13 to meet revenue-neutral requirements following an Allegheny County reassessment.

A 21.08-mill rate was passed last year, the same as in the previous three years, to cover a $37.8 million budget. For 2013-14, there is a revenue-neutral rate of 17.715 mills, plus 0.39 mills allowed under the state's Act 1.

That brings the final figure to 18.104 mills.

The Act 1 hike will be put toward “planning for the district's future growth,” including a new high school, the district's director of finance Tracy A. Harris said.

Each mill nets approximately $1.23 million, at least for now.

“It is still changing,” Harris said about final assessment figures, now at $1.395 billion for all properties in Pleasant Hills, Jefferson Hills and West Elizabeth.

“There are still appeals out there,” Harris said, covering properties now valued at $141 million.

Harris said salaries, pension payments and benefits account for much of the increase in the budget.

The board approved the budget, tax rate and other agenda items unanimously, 8-0. Board vice president Shauna D'Alessandro was absent.

Even with a tax hike, Harris said the district still has the 10th lowest tax rate among 42 districts in Pittsburgh's Allegheny County suburbs.

Some residents could have any tax increase wiped out by a homestead exemption also approved on Thursday night, which will mean a $187.59 break on the 2013-14 tax bill.

The board also approved 2013-14 budgets for Southeastern Area Special School (Mon Valley) and Steel Center Area Vocational Technical School and a variety of 2013-14 contracts.

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