Plum school board postpones real estate tax-related vote
Plum School District officials postponed a vote on whether the district will limit any tax increase next year to the state’s Act 1 index.
Board members were to approve at the Jan. 22 regular meeting a resolution to stay within the Act 1 index — a state formula restricting real estate tax hikes — or advertise a 2019-20 preliminary budget and seek exemptions.
Steve Schlauch, board member and finance committee chairman, said they decided to table the vote until a special meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 29 at the high school library.
“There were some board members who felt they weren’t ready to make a decision at the voting meeting,” Schlauch said. “I felt it was fair to move it back an extra week to give everyone a fair opportunity to do their due diligence and their own research regarding the budget. I’m in favor of not raising taxes.”
The state’s deadline for a school district to either adopt an Act 1 resolution or develop a preliminary budget for public inspection is Jan. 31.
Plum could avoid needing a preliminary budget at this time by adopting the resolution. It would then craft a proposed final budget and post it for the public by May 31. Under that scenario, the district would have to limit any tax increase to 0.65 mills.
The district would have to formally adopt a preliminary budget by Feb. 20 if the resolution is not approved.
A final budget must be adopted by the end of June regardless of what the board decides this month.
District Business Manager John Zahorchak offered several budgetary scenarios at a finance committee meeting Jan. 15.
Two included no tax increases while another had a tax hike beyond the Act 1 index to create a capital fund to address building maintenance and related projects. All relied on teacher contract negotiations going the district’s way.
Both the teachers union and the district have declined to discuss contract terms until a deal is approved.
Zahorchak’s presentation showed an estimated $1.1 million shortfall in the 2019-20 preliminary budget with projected revenues around $64 million and expenses just over $65 million.
He said increased pension obligations, salaries, cyber/charter school tuition and health care costs over the past several years forced the board to increase taxes, close Regency Park Elementary, reduce kindergarten from full- to half-day and furlough staff for this year’s budget.
The current millage is 21.0757. An increase to the index limit would be 21.729 mills, which means an owner of a $100,000 home would pay $65 more in real estate taxes.
A tax hike beyond the index with the special education and pension exemptions could raise the millage rate to an estimated 22.024 mills. That would result in a $100,000 property owner paying roughly $94 more.
Zahorchak said the exact millage rate with the exemptions could not be determined without state approval.
Presentation documents were posted on the district’s website at bit.ly/2HkMVAe.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .