Greater Latrobe School Board eyes 1-mill tax hike | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Greater Latrobe School Board eyes 1-mill tax hike

Jeff Himler
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Greater Latrobe Senior High School

Taxes would go up next year in the Greater Latrobe School District if the school board passes a tentative 2019-20 budget that cleared a first hurdle this week.

The board is considering a tax hike to 82.25 mills — one mill higher than this year — to help pay for a proposed budget of $57.1 million. The budget passed 5-1, with Mike O’Barto opposed. Conrad Lazor, Dr. Michael Zorch and William Palmer were absent.

O’Barto said he wants to hold the line on taxes. “I feel for the taxpayer,” he said. “I’m going to look at every line item to see if we can make a cut.”

The hike would generate about $340,000 in revenue for the district and would add roughly $25 to the annual tax bill for every $25,000 of home value. The average home in the district is worth $26,456.

Expenditures are expected to increase by a little over $1 million, or 1.85%. Revenues, however, are projected to go up by only about $700,000.

To help balance the budget, the district might dip into its savings for $193,750, leaving about $2 million in the account to end next school year, according to business administrator Dan Watson.

Expenses for teacher retirement benefits are set to increase by $344,138 — or 4.37% — to a little more than $8.2 million. “We anticipate these will continue to climb,” said Watson.

Curriculum costs are set to rise by $92,935, or more than 32%, as the district invests in a new K-8 science curriculum.

Wage expenditures are going up by $411,858, or 1.71%. Watson noted the district is replacing the 11 teachers who are taking advantage of an early retirement incentive and an additional staff member who resigned. On Tuesday, the board hired five new teachers for art, physical education, special education and two elementary music positions.

Two new positions are planned — an elementary autistic support teacher and a personal care assistant.

O’Barto asked if Greater Latrobe could save money by using its own staff instead of a consultant, CCL Technologies of Greensburg, to handle mandated data reporting and to provide technology support services. O’Barto was the sole opponent of five-year renewals of two contracts for those services totaling more than $1.2 million.

Robin Pynos, director of technology, curriculum and instruction, said no existing staff are able to take on the time-consuming tasks. Watson said it would cost more to hire needed workers than to pay the consultant.

He said the district has saved $1.6 million so far through use of the company. According to Pynos, that freed up nine staff, who were reassigned to other duties.

A copy of the budget is posted on the district website and will be available for review at the central administration office. Final adoption is expected in June.

Board OKs capital funds

The board placed $400,000, money it received through sale of the former Latrobe Elementary School, in a capital projects fund. Watson said the money could be used toward the district’s own projects — such as ongoing renovation of the senior high roof, at an estimated cost of $1.8 million.

It also might be applied toward the district’s share of a potential renovation of the Eastern Westmoreland County Technology Center, he said.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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