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Quaker Valley gets tax increase exception, but likely won't take advantage

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 12:21 p.m.

Quaker Valley is one of 13 Allegheny County school districts to receive state approval to raise property taxes above an Act 1 index.

But Quaker Valley spokeswoman Tina Vojtko said district leaders likely won't use the exception granted last week by the state Department of Education.

“Under the proposed final budget, the board will not be taking those exceptions,” she said this week.

School board members last month approved the roughly $43.5 million proposed final budget that includes an increase in the property tax rate from 16.93 mills to 17.2 mills.

An owner of a home valued at $258,207, which is the median in the 11 communities that make up the district, would pay about $70 more next year if the board approves the millage increase later this month in a final vote.

Vojtko said the tax rate increase could change.

Other districts to receive the exception include Avonworth, Moon Area and Northgate and Pine-Richland.

Like Quaker Valley, other districts do not use the approved exception, state Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said.

“Although school districts apply for exceptions under Act 1, many do not enact the maximum tax rates granted through the exception process,” Eller said in a release.

For the current school year budget, 171 school districts applied for exceptions, he said. Of that, 93 districts used the exceptions.

Quaker Valley board members could raise taxes up to .3555 mills without the Act 1 exception. Doing so could net the district an additional $582,600.

With the exception, board members could add another .2601 mills to bring in an additional $446,500.

That means Quaker Valley leaders could add more than $1 million to the revenue based on a tax increase.

But Vojtko said board members approved last month a .27-mill increase that would bring in about $435,600, which stays below the index and does not use the exception.

Vojtko said leaders likely could approve using $200,000 from a retirement system stabilization fund board members created several years ago to help balance the budget.

Vojtko called the millage a moving target due in part to the Allegheny County property reassessment appeals — some of which have not been settled. Governing bodies were required to adjust tax rates so as not to gain revenue from the assessment.

“It's a guessing game in terms of what we believe the appeals will look like,” she said.

“You want to make sure you do the right thing and lower the millage so it's revenue neutral, but depending on the appeals, you could end up with lower revenues than the previous year.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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