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Tax increase will not be above index in West Jefferson Hills for 2013-14

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 10:39 p.m.

Taxes will not increase above the state-issued index for the 2013-14 school year in West Jefferson Hills.

School board members last week agreed to keep any possible tax increase below the district's state-issued index of 2.2 percent for next school year.

What that percentage would translate into for the district's millage is not clear, as leaders do not know what the real estate tax rate base would be for 2013-14, due to outstanding property assessment appeals, said director of finance Tracy Harris.

The Taxpayer Relief Act, also known as Act 1, passed by the Legislature in 2006, requires school districts to limit tax increases to the level set by an inflation index, unless the tax increase is approved by voters in referendum or the district obtains exceptions from the state Department of Education.

One option districts have is to adopt a resolution promising not to raise taxes above their set index. That must be passed 110 days prior to the next election, as was done in West Jefferson Hills.

District officials plan to vote on a preliminary budget in May and the final budget for 2013-14 will be ready for board approval in June, Harris said.

Bond refinance

The district could save more than $125,000 by refinancing general obligation bonds.

The board authorized the district administrators to begin the refinancing of the Series A of 2003 and Series B of 2003 general obligation bonds with a minimum net savings of $127,000.

The bonds likely will be refinanced in March.

Facilities goals

Goals are set for a facilities master plan that is meant to provide a blueprint for district buildings over the next several years.

The board last week approved goals related to the development of a facilities master plan. Identified issues include:

• The disparity between the perceived quality of life and education delivered in the school district and the condition of the high school facilities.

• The impact of the scope and schedule of future capital projects on the district fund balance, debt service and potential funding limitations.

Strategic goals include: curriculum drives facilities, modernize high school facilities, address long-term district growth, operational efficiency and fiscal responsibility.

More details on the report are available at www.wjhsd.net.

Graduation date set

Graduation for Thomas Jefferson High School seniors is scheduled for June 6.

The board last week set the commencement date for the class of 2013.

Summer classes

Dates have been set for two summer health classes at Thomas Jefferson High School.

School board members approved the dates at their meeting last week.

The first session for summer health will be held from June 10 to 21. Session two will run from June 24 to 28 and July 8 to 12.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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