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Brentwood deals with a hefty deficit

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

An increase in the property-tax rate to the state limit, plus an added exception granted by the state Department of Education, still would leave a deficit of about $2 million the 2013-14 Brentwood Borough School District budget.

School officials likely will tap into the district's estimated $5.1 million reserve to eliminate the majority of the deficit, business manager Jennifer Pesanka said.

Board members in an 8-0 vote on Monday approved the proposed budget, with revenues of $18.8 million and expenditures of $20.7 million. The budget does not include any staffing cuts. The only increases in the budget are for salaries and Public School Employees' Retirement System, or PSERS, contributions, Pesanka said.

Board President Robert Kircher was absent.

“We kept it very lean,” Pesanka said. “We went line by line to determine if and where cuts could be made.”

District officials will continue their review of the numbers to determine if any additional trimming can be done until the final passage of the budget next month, Pesanka said.

The budget proposal includes a decrease in the property-tax tax rate from 2012-13 — going from 28.27 to 24.7443 mills. This is to make up for the increase in property values in Brentwood resulting from the countywide court-ordered reassessments.

A tax rate of 24.7443 mills would result in a $2,474 tax bill for a resident with a home assessed at $100,000.

A “revenue-neutral” millage, or rate that would have the district collecting the same amount in property taxes as in 2012-13, in Brentwood would range from 23.7523 to 23.8025, depending on how outstanding assessment appeals are settled.

Increasing real estate taxes to the state allowed index rate of 2.2 percent for Brentwood schools would bump the millage rate to 24.3737, Pesanka said.

The district was granted an “exception” to raise the millage above the state index by 0.3706 of a mill, or receiving no more than $141,164, to help offset PSERS contribution increases. Those are set to jump from 12.36 percent of salaries budgeted in Brentwood in 2012-13 to 16.93 percent in 2013-14, Pesanka said.

Board members still have a choice when approving the final budget: They can pass a revenue-neutral millage rate — holding the line on taxes — or increase the tax rate to the index and take the exception.

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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