Gateway School District poised to increase tax rate, dip into reserves
Gateway School District's originally reported shortfall of $878,000 in March has climbed to $1.9 million and administrators are proposing a property tax increase and a dip into the budget's rainy day fund to balance it.
"Unfortunately, over the last three weeks or so we had quite a bit of negative movement in the budget …That's in the area of increased expenditures and decreased revenues," said Paul Schott, the district's business manager.
Schott presented a final, proposed budget to school board members, Gateway administrators and community members at a recent finance committee meeting.
The increased expenditures are coming from paying tuition for 37 charter and cyber charter school students at a cost of $635,000 and, separately, $748,000 for special education students who have moved into the district.
The district will also lose about $509,000 in annual revenue from Monroeville Mall property taxes. The mall property owners won an appeal recently that dropped its taxable assessed value from $105 million to $78.6 million.
In addition to losing that revenue, the district owes the mall a $1 million refund for tax years dating back to 2015.
Schott said the proposed tax rate of 19.8675 would generate about $1.2 million more than the current levy. The remaining $758,000 of the shortfall would be taken from the budget's fund balance. No teacher furloughs or program cuts have been proposed.
The proposed rate would mean the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $54 in taxes annually.
School Director Rick McIntyre, who originally said he would not support a tax increase, said the increase appears to be inevitable because of the loss in revenue from the mall.
"We're taking a $1.5 million hit there," he said, referring to the one-time refund and the mall's reduced tax revenue.
McIntyre said he is still brainstorming on how the district might avoid a tax increase. One suggestion he hopes other board members consider is rethinking a $300,000 purchase of a new scoreboard for the high school stadium.
The last time Gateway raised property taxes was in 2015, when the board increased millage by 0.4345 to its current rate of 19.3264 mills.
The school board will vote on the proposed final budget on May 21 before the district hosts another public hearing on June 5. The board must ratify a final budget by June 30.
To view the final proposed budget, visit bit.ly/2G37WcY .
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dillonswriting.