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Westmoreland

Greater Latrobe school board eyeing tax hike

Jeff Himler
| Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 9:36 p.m.
Tomislav Forgo

Greater Latrobe School District administrators say a half-mill property tax increase may be needed to bridge an expected $170,000 shortfall in finances for the 2018-19 school year.

The school board Tuesday reviewed a proposed $56 million budget for the coming school year that includes a $630,521 increase in expenditures, but only a $460,521 increase in revenues.

District business administrator Dan Watson said special education costs accounted for the largest single increase — $463,803, or 21.5 percent. Much of that hike was attributed to serving several students with high levels of special needs.

Medical expenses went down by 7 percent, costs for business operations decreased by about 4 percent.

Board member Mike O'Barto, who has steadfastly opposed tax hikes and proposed a tax break for senior citizens, asked if district officials could manage to balance the budget while holding the property tax at its current 80.75 mills.

If the board sets that goal, Watson said, "I will work with our administrative team and we'll come back with a recommendation."

A half-mill hike would add about $13 to the average property owner's tax bill.

The board is also considering a 5-cent increase in school meal prices. They are expected to vote on a tentative budget at the board's May 15 meeting.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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