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Preliminary United school budget includes tax hike of more than 6 mills

| Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, 7:03 p.m.

United School Board voted Feb. 19 to approve a preliminary district budget for 2014-15 that would include an increase of more than 6 percent in the real estate tax millage rate.

The board voted to seek exceptions from the state Department of Education that would permit the district to hike its real estate tax rate by an extra 3.2 mills on top of the increase allowed by United's 3-percent index.

The district will seek exceptions for teacher pensions and special education costs, according to board President Donald Davis.

“The index was 3 percent, which would have let us do about 2.97 mills,” Davis said. “Had we not made the motion to accept those (exceptions), we would have been extremely limited.”

The preliminary budget projects expenditures of $19,930,796 balanced by revenues of $19,408,523 and $522,273 from the district's fund balance. The tax rate in the district would increase by 6.16844 mills under the preliminary budget. Each mill generates about $46,000 for the district, Director of Finance G. Thomas Kalinyak said.

“What we've done with those exceptions is built in some flexibility so that, if we must, we have the flexibility to do what we have to do in raising the taxes,” Davis said. “There's no one on this board who wants to raise taxes by 6 mills, so we're going to do everything we can to pare that down as much as possible.”

School directors approved an agreement with ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 under which the district would receive IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) funding reimbursements for allowable expenses totaling $93,128.12 for 2013-14.

The board unanimously accepted the retirements of learning support teachers Patricia Sexton and Marion Shirey at the conclusion of the current school year. Sexton will have served the district for 32 years, Shirey 15 years, at their retirements.

A motion naming varsity head football coach Lance Holupka as weight room supervisor for the 2014-15 school year, at a salary of $1,147.50, caused a split on the board. Holupka was approved by a 5-3 vote with Tommey Heming, Trudy DeRubis and Robert Dill opposed. Robert Lichtenfels was absent.

Following up on a Feb. 11 vote naming Tri County Transportation as the district's new transportation contractor, school directors agreed to place a motion on the agenda for the board's March 11 meeting that would approve a formal contract with the Northern Cambria-based company.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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