The Apollo-Ridge School Board hit property taxpayers with a double whammy on June 26.
The board voted to increase expenditures to $22.89 million and raised taxes by 2.1 mills for Armstrong County property owners. The board also — unfortunately for the struggling taxpayers — sought counsel from the National Education Association (NEA), an anti-traditional family, liberal labor union. It took the NEA's recommendation to increase the district's starting teacher salary from $31,000 to $35,000. This move did not reflect the economy of the Apollo-Ridge district or the ability of its dwindling taxpaying population's ability to pay.
The NEA is an outside policy driver that will feel no pain from this decision, but taxpayers will. Making the taxpayers' wounds even more painful, the 2014-15 budget contains unaffordable pay increases for administration employees. Taxpayers were already saddled with a continuing debt burden from the elementary school and the football stadium.
We are not in a blossoming local economy prepared to pay more. Apollo-Ridge and Armstrong County have a depleted business and industry job base. That leaves a limited population to fund these unjustified wage hikes for A-R employees.
To bring taxpayer relief, call your state legislators and ask them to push for passage of HB 1722. This bill will help alleviate increasing pension costs. And when teacher layoffs are necessary, they will be based on teacher performance in the classroom — not on seniority.
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