Greater Latrobe faces 2.7-mill tax-hike cap for 2020-21
Greater Latrobe School Board in December is expected to decide whether it intends to keep any potential tax increase for the 2020-21 school year within a 2.71-mill cap set by the state.
District Business Administrator Dan Watson told the board Tuesday that Greater Latrobe will be limited to a 3.3% increase over its current real estate tax rate of 82.25 mills, under the provisions of Pennsylvania’s Act 1, the Taxpayer Relief Act.
If the district were to increase taxes by the full 2.71 mills, it could expect to raise an additional $934,950 in revenue, Watson said.
The board raised the tax rate by 1 mill last year to help support the current $57 million district budget, well within the 2.36-mill cap set a year ago.
The last time Greater Latrobe exceeded the state cap was in 2010-11 — when the board approved a 4.5-mill hike, compared to a 2.48-mill cap. To raise taxes beyond the cap, the local district must receive state approval of one or more exceptions to Act 1 or obtain local voter approval.
The district by Jan. 9 must either pass a resolution stating that it won’t exceed the new 2.71-mill cap or make a preliminary 2020-21 district budget available for public review.
May 31 is the deadline for the district to approve a proposed 2020-21 budget. Adoption of a final budget for that school year must take place by June 30.
Watson said it’s too early to say what level of tax increase, if any, the district might contemplate for next school year.
But, he said, district officials should be able to get a better fix on expected cost increases as the time nears for a decision on the 2020-21 budget and taxes. He noted that “60 to 70 percent of our expenditures are staff-related” and “we know what our staff structure tentatively looks like.”
Watson said Greater Latrobe has been “pretty successful over the past several years” in managing its finances.
”We’ve received some additional revenue streams and we’ve seen some increases in some existing revenue streams that maybe some other districts didn’t experience,” he said, “and we have been able to control our staffing, just because our overall enrollment has somewhat declined over those years.
Also, he said, “We’ve been able to allocate and set aside funds for capital projects that we knew were coming.”
Greater Latrobe is among local districts that received state safety grants to support employment of a school resource officer. Latrobe was awarded a $30,000 grant in the 2017-18 school year.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .