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Tax hike coming for some residents of Shaler Area

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Shaler Area School District residents might see a tax increase next year depending on their homes' reassessed value.

The school board last week approved the $74 million 2013-14 budget with a slight tax increase over the lowered revenue neutral rate using the allowed Act 1 index, which establishes the maximum tax increase allowable for each school district without applying for an exception from the state Department of Education or seeking voter approval.

Shaler Area “reset” its tax rate to a revenue-neutral millage of 20.37, down from the current 25.63 mills, to avoid a windfall of revenue from the county-wide reassessment and then raised the millage to a final 20.76 mills.

The new 20.76 mills would equal a tax bill of $2,076 for a resident with a home assessed at $100,000, and $4,152 for a resident with a home assessed at $200,000.

Charles Bennett, director of business affairs, said the new millage will cause individual property owners' taxes to increase or decrease based on their property's reassessment.

“I did all nine of yours,” Bennett said addressing the school board members, “and six of you went down and three of you went up in total tax obligation, and that is what will happen in your neighborhoods.”

The largest increases for the 2013-14 budget are to regular instruction and special education instruction mostly due to the rising costs of the district's mandatory Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement Systems (PSERS) contribution rate and healthcare.

PSERS contribution rates will increase from about 12 percent of payroll to about 17 percent for the 2013-14 school year and to an anticipated 30 percent by 2018-19.

The district also has about $80 million worth of property assessment appeals still pending, which will affect the total local revenue.

“I'm voting yes to the tax increase based on this assessment variable,” said board member John Fries. “In the future, I hope we talk to community leaders … regarding transient-ness (of students) and the Route 8 corridor (business district) so we don't keep putting this burden on Shaler taxpayers.”

The tax increase will generate $700,000 and will be added to the district's use of $1.5 million of the fund balance and close to $645,000 of the PSERS retirement reserve to balance the budget.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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