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Moon Area School Board gives approval on revised budget

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

In a special meeting on Monday, all nine members of the Moon Area School Board unanimously approved a revised preliminary budget of $64.4 million that slightly lowers a proposed tax rate and preserves the board's right to raise taxes if members believe they must for the 2013-14 school year.

The board's solicitor, Alfred Maiello, recommended the special meeting even though the board had rejected a budget proposal submitted by district administrators last week.

Maiello said the board had to meet because state Department of Education rules require approval of a proposed preliminary budget at least 85 days before the primary election, which is May 21.

The document approved this week calls for a property tax rate of 17.8 mills, under which a homeowner with a property assessed at $150,000 would pay $2,671 to the district. The administration had proposed a rate of 18.4 mills.

Business manager Alan Bennett said the higher rate was based on state Act One, which caps the amount of property tax increase the board can approve to 2 percent of the existing rate of 21.3 mills. It reflects expected increases in contributions to the state teachers' retirement fund.

District officials are required to reduce the millage rate downward because assessed property valuation in the district is expected to increase from the current $1.9 billion to $2.3 billion next year because of reassessments.

Daniel Work of Moon, one of about a dozen members of the Moon Area Education Support Professional Association who attended the meeting, asked the board if the revised budget proposal called for any furloughs.

Bennett said the document does not contain detailed line items and termed it “the very beginning” of the budget process.

Sandra Fischione Donovan is a freelance writer.

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