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Franklin Regionl holds line on taxes

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Homeowners in the Franklin Regional School District won't see an increase in their tax bills this summer.

The board approved a $49.3 million budget with no tax-rate increase last week, the first budget without a tax hike in 10 years.

The budget was approved by a 8-1 vote, with board member Dennis Pavlik dissenting. He said he was confused by his fellow board members' change of heart to not squirrel away money for future retirement costs, as had been the practice in the past.

“I was confused by this budget because normally, we put money into that fund instead of withdrawing it,” Pavlik said. “We're kicking the can down the road. I could not bring myself to vote for that.”

Rather than increasing the tax rate, the board opted to use $420,873 from its uncommitted fund balance. Finance director Jon Perry previously had recommended using $270,000 from its fund balance assigned to help smooth retirement-contribution increases. In 2013-14, the district expects to contribute about $4.1 million to the state retirement fund, more than $1 million more than in 2012-13.

State regulations require each district to contribute 16.9 percent of employee salaries to the state retirement fund. During the past several years, Franklin Regional officials have set aside about $3.8 million to help manage the anticipated pension contribution spikes, Perry said. In April, the district added $1.25 million to that fund balance.

School property tax bills won't increase this year. The owner of a home assessed at $35,000 – the average property assessment in the district – will continue to pay about $307 in property taxes.

However, residents who applied for the homestead or farmstead exclusion will receive a $118 reduction in their tax bill. Perry said 7,044 homeowners will receive the exclusion, while 18 farm owners will receive the exclusion.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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