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Greensburg Salem officials OK preliminary property tax increase

| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Greensburg Salem school board on Wednesday approved a preliminary budget for the next school year with a 1.75-mill increase in property taxes.

Directors voted 5-2 to endorse the spending plan. Directors Frank Gazze and Rich Guerrieri voted no.

Directors were forced to adopt the preliminary budget now because they changed their minds last week about filing for exceptions with the state that would have allowed them to increase taxes up to 3.84 mills.

Directors further had to adopt the budget on Wednesday because they didn't pass a resolution last month saying any tax hike for 2013-14 would be 1.75 mills or less.

Under Act 1 of 2006, school districts can raise the property tax rate each year by a set percentage, or index, that is determined by economic factors.

Greensburg Salem's index for 2013-14 is 2.2 percent, or a maximum 1.75 mills. The exceptions would have allowed for a greater increase.

Directors hope over the next few months to trim the proposed 1.75-mill increase before final budget adoption in June.

Gazze said he voted no because he wanted the flexibility that the exceptions gave.

“I just like the ability to keep your options open,” he added.

Guerrieri declined comment.

The proposed spending plan totals $41.4 million and includes an approximately $1.7 million increase over the 2012-13 budget for salaries and benefits.

The proposed budget shows the district beginning the 2013-14 school year with a $2.5 million fund balance. After the next school year, district officials project the reserve at $941,031.

A 1.75-mill tax hike would yield $396,270, business manager James Meyer said after the meeting.

In another matter, directors approved seeking bids to replace the roof at Amos K. Hutchinson Elementary School.

Directors have proposed using $1.2 million from refinancing of a 2002 bond to pay for the roof.

The bond money must be used for capital improvements, district officials said.

In another matter, directors hired Elaine Carney as a high school language arts teacher for the second semester for $19,516.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bsti les@tribweb.com.

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