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Brentwood school board reluctantly approves tax hike

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Brentwood Borough School Board members said they hope state leaders will increase education funding soon so they don't have to keep going back to the local taxpayers.

Board members on Monday, in an 8-1 vote, approved the district's 2014-15 budget that includes a 2.02-mill property-tax-rate increase, setting the millage rate for next school year at 26.8259.

Board member Sarah Komlenic dissented.

The final budget — which includes $20.1 million in revenue and $22.3 million in expenses — uses $2.2 million from the district's fund balance to balance the budget.

“Sooner or later, someone has to step up. We can't expect our taxpayers to continually do it,” board President Robert Kircher said. “We're not alone in this.”

The Brentwood Borough School District now receives $750,000 less than in state subsidies than it did several years ago, yet salaries and pension contributions have increased by more than that, board members said.

“We've resisted this for a number of years,” board member Richard Briner said.

Yet, with revenues and expenses being unequal, along with a dwindling fund balance, board members said it was time to bite the bullet.

“At this rate, we'll be out of money at this time (the following) year,” Kircher said.

The district has $5.8 million in a fund-balance account, or reserve account, but officials plan to use some of that money to balance the 2013-14 budget. That account is projected to have a little more than $4 million by the end of June.

One mill in Brentwood brings in about $370,490, based on a 93.6-percent collection rate. The millage increase will cost owner of a home with district's median assessment of $83,400 an extra $168 a year.

The millage hike provides an additional $275,684 to the district for increasing the tax rate by the state-issued index of 3 percent and an additional $473,266 for exceptions to state limits in order to pay for special-education and retirement costs .

Under Act 1 — the state legislation that distributes gambling revenue to districts — the state limits how much school boards can raise the tax rate each year without getting exceptions or going to the voters.

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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