Fluctuating millage will affect property owners in Brentwood
By Stephanie Hacke
Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The millage in the Brentwood Borough School District for the 2013-14 school year dropped once and then increased twice, at least in the mathematics used to get to next school year's tax rate.
The overall effect on property owners, though, will vary, school board members said Monday.
“The millage is actually less than what it was before,” school board Vice President David Schaap told his colleagues. “It's a millage decrease, but it's because there's a larger assessed value of Brentwood Borough property.”
District leaders, in the $20.9 million final 2013-14 school year budget approved on Monday in an 8-1 vote, increased the tax rate to the state-allowed index of 2.4 percent and included a state-issued exception that will finance no more than $141,164 of the district's pension contributions.
This “doesn't nearly cover what our pension costs are,” Schaap said.
The budget includes a decrease in the property-tax rate from 2012-13; it is going from 28.27 to 24.8044 mills. This is to make up for the increase in property values in Brentwood resulting from the countywide court-ordered reassessments.
The bare-bones 2013-14 school year budget holds the line on most spending in the district, officials have said. One teacher who retired will not be replaced for the coming school year, business manager Jennifer Pesanka said.
Still, the budget includes the district using about $1.8 million from its reserve.
An audit ending June 30, 2012, showed the district has a reserve of $6.6 million, officials said. Of that, the district will use about $1.25 million to balance the 2012-13 school year budget at the end of the year, they said.
The main question, though for school board President Robert Kircher, who was the lone dissenter, was how all of these numbers will affect the residents.
“Will the residents see an increase in their tax bill or a decrease in their tax bill?” Kircher asked.
“Yes,” Schaap said with a laugh. “Some will see increases, and some will see decreases, and it depends really how their assessment compares to their previous assessment.”
Kircher called his vote symbolic.
“I can't see raising taxes on any of our residents until other people and groups that have a vested interest in this school district show that same desire,” he said.
A “revenue-neutral” millage, or tax rate that would have the district not collecting any more than it did in the 2012-13 school year, would range from 23.7845 to 23.8612, depending on how assessment appeals are settled.
Increasing real estate taxes to the state-allowed index rate of 2.4 percent for Brentwood schools would bump the millage rate to 24.4338, officials have said.
The district was granted an “exception” to raise the millage above the state index by 0.3706 of a mill to help offset Pennsylvania School Employees' Retirement System contribution increases. That allows for the tax increase to 24.8044 mills, officials have said.
Those chicken sandwiches and nachos and cheese will cost more for Brentwood students next school year, as board members on Monday unanimously agreed to a 10-cent increase on lunches.
The cost of lunches for the 2013-14 school year for elementary students will be $2.05; middle and high school students, $2.30; and adults, $3.30. All student breakfasts will be $1.35, and milk will be a la carte at 50 cents, at no increase.
The increases are due to a state mandate that brings the amount charged up to the reimbursement for free lunches, board President Robert Kircher said.
Last year's assistant girls' varsity basketball coach at Brentwood High School will be taking over the lead job next school year.
School board members on Monday in a unanimous vote approved hiring Rachel Thomas as the girls varsity basketball coach for the 2013-14 school year at a rate of $6,990. Thomas also was hired as the seventh- and eighth-grade basketball assistant coach at a rate of $2,614.
Sixteen new and revised policies dealing with how the Brentwood Borough School District will handle discipline of students with disabilities to screenings and evaluations of students with disabilities to weapons, tobacco and drug use in schools, and emergency preparedness will be on display for public inspection during the next several weeks at the borough library and schools.
The majority of the policies were needed due to changes in the American Individuals with Disabilities Act, board member Julia McCarthy said.
A joint agenda setting and voting meeting on July 8 has been canceled, Superintendent Ronald Dufalla said Monday. A committee meeting for board members on Monday also has been canceled.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or email@example.com.
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