Franklin Regional officials say tax hike might be avoided
Zero might be the magic number for Franklin Regional officials in the 2013-14 budget.
District officials this week said they are considering holding the line on taxes for the first time since 2002-03 school year.
“This is the healthiest we've looked in the last few years,” board member Paul Scheinert said. “This is a very, very healthy picture compared to two or three years ago.”
On Monday, Director of Finance Jon Perry presented a $49.46 million preliminary budget that includes a 1-mill tax rate increase. That number was conservative, Perry said, and could be reduced to zero by the time the board approves its final budget on June 17.
“It's easier to work downwards,” Perry said. “It's our goal to reduce that number. We have another month-and-a-half.”
In total, the district has worked its way from an anticipated deficit of nearly $2 million to about $445,000. Perry recommended the district use a 1-mill tax rate increase and about $110,000 from the district's reserve fund to balance the budget.
But Board President Herb Yingling has another idea. As the board prepares to refinance a bond issue, Yingling suggested using some of the money the district will save from that process to balance the budget. Most of the expected $1.8 million that the district would receive from that is slated to be designated for capital improvements.
Long-time board member Roberta Cook liked that idea and suggested the board leave a 1-mill increase in the preliminary budget only as a placeholder.
“You could argue that we're in the best, or at least better, financial situation that most school districts in the county,” Cook said. “I believe this shows the value of staying the course.”
Board member Joe Seymour warned the board that the situation might be too good to be true.
“I don't mean to be a negative nelly here, but the largest part of our budget is personnel,” Seymour said. “This is a year with high retirements and low healthcare prices, (and) we still have a 3.73 percent increase (in personnel costs). We need to remember that.”
Seymour might be right, Perry said. The amount of funding the district will receive from the state has not been finalized and might not be determined until after the board is required to pass its final budget in June. Perry said that amount might decrease if pension reform is not enacted by the legislature.
Resident George Meert said he is very happy that the board is considering a low hike or not raising the tax rate at all.
“I don't pretend to represent the retired or the old geezers of Murrysville, but I am one of them,” Meert said. “Everything you can do to hold the line on tax increases is greatly appreciated by the senior citizens I know.”
The board will meet May 20 to approve a preliminary budget. The final budget will be discussed on June 2 and approved on June 17. All meetings are at 7:30 p.m. in the administrative offices.
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, 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.
- Volunteers spruce up Murrysville’s McGinnis Nature Reserve
- Franklin Regional science students experience ‘Stock Market Game’
- Murrysville bridges to be fixed as part of public-private venture
- Franklin Regional to get $335K for ads at facilities
- Franklin Regional reaches deal with school maintenance staff