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Quaker Valley officials invite public to be a part of budget process

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 10:35 p.m.

As Quaker Valley school directors and administrators wade through the 2013-14 budget, leaders are inviting taxpayers to meetings to learn about the district's financial progress.

Meetings are focused on a specific topic, with the first meeting designed to discuss district revenue.

“We spend a bulk of the time in discussion,” district spokeswoman Tina Vojtko said of the three meetings expected to begin March 5. “It's a great way to find out more about how schools are funded.”

Subsequent meetings planned for April and May are expected to offer discussions about district expenses and an overall wrap up, Vojtko said.

This is the first year for Quaker Valley to offer meetings focused on the district's budget.

District leaders chose to implement the meetings as a way to offer insight to how tax dollars are spent, Vojtko said.

“It's all about engagement and getting feedback from the community,” she said. “We put an awful lot out on our website, but it doesn't mean it's always easily understood.”

Among the topics Vojtko said she expects to be discussed include the public employee pensions funding and how the district plans to overcome it, cyber and charter school funding, transportation costs and the Allegheny County property reassessment.

“The assessment is so confusing and convoluted,” Vojtko said. “Just because your assessment went up, doesn't necessarily mean your taxes will go up.”

School board members approved a resolution in November that limits any 2013-14 tax increase to within the inflationary index set by the state Department of Education.

The index for 2013-14 is 1.7 percent, which would allow Quaker Valley a potential increase of up to 0.36125 mills. The district's current millage rate is 21.25 mills. But school directors pledged to not raise taxes for the 2013-14 budget, Superintendent Joseph Clapper said.

“We are seeking opportunities to improve efficiencies and reduce costs while maintaining the highest quality educational program,” he said. “I am confident that we will deliver a 2013-14 budget that will not require a local tax increase.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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