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Chartiers Valley reverses course, votes to raise taxes

| Wednesday, June 29, 2016, 12:09 p.m.

Chartiers Valley School District officials had a change of plans with the district's $62 million budget for 2016-17.

Instead of dipping into savings to balance the budget, board members approved, by a 7-2 vote, the final budget with a 0.39-mill property tax increase.

“We really worked hard not to have a millage increase,” Superintendent Brian White said.

The property tax increase is the first for the district since 2010. The new property-tax rate is 16.6067 mills, which is lowest among Allegheny County school districts.

For residents who own property assessed at $100,000, their increase will amount to $38.92. The new property-tax rate will generate $884,000 for the district.

In May, the board approved a preliminary budget with no property tax increase by using $1.3 million in savings. Since the preliminary approval, administrators trimmed $500,000 in expenses.

Board member Julie Murphy voted against the budget, citing savings of $4.3 million.

“It's hard to justify the tax hike,” Murphy said.

Board member Jeff Choura opposed the final budget because of residents' feedback.

“When I was campaigning, a number of constituents told me to try and hold the line on taxes,” Choura said.

Both Murphy and Choura agreed that administrators and board members worked well together to keep expenses low.

White said revenue projections did not match expenditures for the current budget year, including a slower-than-expected intake of earned income tax. About $700,000 was expected to be collected from earned income tax and the mercantile tax by the end of June. The district also received $223,952 less than projected in the governor's 2015-16 state budget.

Factors affecting the district's budget in the future include its contributions to the Public School Employees' Retirement System, to which Chartiers Valley will contribute $4.5 million in 2016-17. In 2010-11, by comparison, Chartiers Valley's contribution totaled about $712,000.

White acknowledged that district officials underestimated the impact of the 2012 Allegheny County property assessments.

Director of Finance Nick Morelli said 1,075 district residents filed appeals, which resulted in about a 30 percent reduction in property value in the district.

Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805 or jspezialetti@tribweb.com.

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