ShareThis Page
Plum school board members pledge to keep any tax increase in their 2019-20 budget to a minimum | TribLIVE.com
Plum/Oakmont

Plum school board members pledge to keep any tax increase in their 2019-20 budget to a minimum

Michael DiVittorio
| Tuesday, January 29, 2019 10:16 p.m
691760_web1_plum-high-school-sign

Plum School District officials pledged to keep any tax increase in next year’s budget to a minimum and within state Act 1 guidelines.

The board voted 6-2 at a special meeting Tuesday night to adopt a resolution making that commitment.

Board President Scott Coulson, Vice President Vicky Roessler and board members Steve Schlauch, Scott Kolar, Angela Anderson and Sue Caldwell voted in favor.

Board members Richard Zucco and Jim Rogers dissented. Brian Wisniewski was absent.

“I don’t like the idea of cutting off our options,” Rogers said. “We don’t have to do it (go beyond the index), but I’d like to have the option.”

The current millage is 21.0757. An increase to the index limit would be 21.729 mills, a 3.1 percent hike.

That means an owner of a $100,000 home would pay $65 more in real estate taxes.

A tax hike beyond the index would have given the option to raise the millage rate to an estimated 22.024 mills. That would have resulted in a $100,000 property owner paying roughly $94 more.

“I think the residents have been taxed enough,” Roessler said.

Coulson agreed and said the district is in a position were it does not need to seek a higher tax increase to balance the budget.

“There have been a lot of changes in the school district,” Coulson said. “We’ve been very frugal.”

District officials increased taxes, closed Regency Park Elementary, reduced kindergarten from full- to half-day and furloughed more than 20 teachers for this year’s budget.

The pledge not to go beyond the index also means the district is not required to advertise and adopt a preliminary budget at this time.

District Business Manager John Zahorchak said the board’s next official action regarding the 2019-20 budget does not need to take place until May 31, when it would need to approve a proposed final budget.

That proposal would be available for public inspection for at least 20 days prior to formal adoption. A final budget must be balanced and approved by the end of June.

Zahorchak announced the projected $1.1 million deficit in the 2019-20 budget has dropped to approximately $800,000 due to an increase in assessed property values and an adjustment in cyber school tuition costs.

He said a raise to the index would cover the deficit, but moving to make a higher tax increase would have generated enough additional revenue to start a capital project fund.

That fund would have been used for large maintenance and repair projects as well as major equipment purchases.

Schlauch said an additional tax hike to start the fund was unnecessary because there still is $3.5 million remaining from a $10 million 2014 bond issue. That bond was originally taken out to build a new Regency Park school and cover capital projects.

Zahorchak delivered a budget presentation at a Jan. 15 finance committee meeting. Those documents were posted on the district’s website at bit.ly/2HkMVAe .

Part of the presentation included several items that could be cut in order to reduce the deficit and any tax increase.

One option that appears to have been taken off the chopping block was a mid-day kindergarten bus run with a projected $81,600 savings.

The board unanimously approved a motion at the special meeting to authorize a commitment by administration to provide kindergarten busing. The funds for the bus are in the proposed budget. However, the actual line item was not changed after Kolar raised concerns about committing funds to an unapproved budget.

Anderson said parents are registering their children for kindergarten now and cannot wait until June to know whether students would have transportation.


Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.


Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Plum
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.