Gateway officials consider tax hike
Citing rising employment costs and a shrinking student body, Gateway officials said a tax increase is possible for next school year.
Members of the district finance committee met Tuesday night to discuss the 2013-14 budget, which the school board is scheduled to consider for preliminary approval on May 20 and final approval on June 26, said Gateway Business Director Paul Schott.
A proposed 2-percent millage rate increase that officials are considering would generate an additional $876,000 for the school district.
A tax hike of that amount would cut into an anticipated 2013-14 deficit that was estimated at $3.4 million when officials began tackling the budget.
The increase would raise taxes by about $38 for a Monroeville home assessed at $108,000, which represents the median property value in Monroeville.
In Pitcairn, the tax increase on a home with the borough's median property value of $35,200 would amount to $12.50.
Due to the 2012 county property reassessments, district officials are waiting for a more accurate projection from Allegheny County of the overall property value in Gateway for 2013-14, Schott said.
“Hopefully, that will give us some cleaner numbers to look at,” he said.
Regardless of the final numbers, the district cannot increase millage rates next school year by more than 2 percent because of state law that limits the size of school tax hikes, Schott said.
Total district expenditures in 2013-14 are projected at $68.7 million, while total revenues are projected at $67.5 million, which includes the proposed tax increase, according to the preliminary budget proposed on Tuesday. That still leaves a deficit of about $1.23 million.
A shrinking student body has affected state funding for Gateway in recent years. The eighth-grade class is the last grade with 300 or more students, said Bob Reger, assistant to the superintendent.
School districts are mandated by the state to pay for students who live within their boundaries and attend a charter school. Gateway officials project to lose about $3.6 million of state funding to charter schools next school years, Schott said. The district lost 190 students to charter schools last year, said Robert Reger, assistant to the superintendent.
The state also mandates an increase in pension contributions for district employees, which adds to employee costs that represent nearly 70 percent of expenditures to the budget that officials are working on.
“What kinds of outside-the-box things are we looking at to change some stuff when it comes to the expenses associated with employees inside the district?” asked Monroeville resident Robert Clemens.
School Director Dan Nowak said although the cost of employee salaries should be reassessed by district officials, the retirement contribution rate is determined by the state.
“But as (salaries) go up, (retirement costs) go up,” interjected another resident.
There were about 15 personnel cuts — including 10 lunchroom aid positions and two secretary positions — proposed on Tuesday. A reduction of staff was not included with the projected overall expenditures for next school year, said school board President Steve O'Donnell.
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, 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.