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Pine-Richland spending plan calls for tax increase

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 10:17 p.m.

The Pine-Richland School District's proposed preliminary budget for the 2013-14 school year includes a 4.24-percent increase in the property tax rate.

The tax increase would help cover a projected $1.8 million deficit in anticipated revenue to cover expenses.

The preliminary general budget anticipates total expenditures of $69.4 million and total revenues of $68.8 million, including the added revenue from property taxes.

The plan also proposes to use about $630,500 from the district's fund balance — surplus savings — for revenue.

School directors received the preliminary spending plan at their Jan. 14 meeting and plan to vote on it Feb. 11 in order to seek permission from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to raise the property tax rate more than 2 percent, the state-imposed limit on how much Pine-Richland School District may increase property taxes from year to year.

“The final budget will be developed over the next several months as more information becomes available, specifically Allegheny County (property) assessments and results of taxpayer appeals, and state funding,” said Dennis Sundo, chairman of the school board's finance committee.

Other unavailable figures include the final costs for employees' health insurance and the district's liability insurance.

“It (the proposed budget) is very preliminary, and we don't have a lot of numbers, but we have to do the budget at this time in order to follow the Act 1 timeline for filing for exceptions,” Sundo said.

Act 1 — the Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006 — regulates permissible taxation by Pennsylvania school districts and requires districts to file a request with the Pennsylvania Department of Education for an exception to raise property taxes — without a referendum vote — above a state-set rate, which is 2 percent for Pine Richland School District.

Pine-Richland officials must file their request for an exception by March 7, but they aren't obligated to ultimately raise the tax rate.

“The reason we file for exceptions is to leave all of our options open,” Sundo said. “This is very, very preliminary.”

The proposed budget is available for public inspection at Northern Tier Regional Library, 4015 Dickey Road, Richland, and the administrative offices of Pine-Richland School District, 702 Warrendale Road, Pine.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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