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Taxes may not rise in Penn-Trafford

| Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

There could be no tax increase for residents of the Penn-Trafford School District.

The school board tentatively approved a preliminary budget for the 2013-14 school year on Monday night after Superintendent Thomas Butler and Business Manager Brett Lago presented details of the spending plan.

“We think that given all the circumstances ... given the increase we had last year, we feel that we cannot have an increase this year,” Lago said.

To maintain the millage rate of 74.85 mills, the district is eliminating seven teaching positions and one administrative spot, both through attrition. The move will save about $800,000, Lago said.

The reduction will not affect services. As enrollment has declined during the past several years, so has staffing levels.

“It's not impacting education,” said Director Bruce Newell.

According to information provided by the district, 271 teachers were employed in the district in the 2007-08 year. Staffing is projected at 238 teachers for the upcoming year.

The $49 million spending plan shows a 1.3 percent increase in expenditures from the 2012-13 year. Revenues are expected to increase by 3.32 percent.

“This is a budget that we feel is going to move the district forward educationally, instructionally and it does not include any millage increase,” Butler said.

The district will maintain nearly $4 million in its fund balance. A portion of that could be directed toward funding renovations that the district is undertaking or retirement benefits.

Newell suggested the possibility of discussing a millage increase based on possible financial struggles related to future renovations or construction.

“I'm very concerned about that in the long term,” he said.

Directors last year approved a 1.6-mill tax increase for the 2012-13 budget that emphasized technology upgrades. Nineteen positions were eliminated through attrition, saving the district about $1 million.

Final budgets are due by June 30. The plan for 2013-14 is available for public inspection.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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