ShareThis Page
News

Burrell school board raises property taxes nearly 3 percent

| Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 11:00 p.m.

Home and property owners in the Burrell School District will be paying nearly 3 percent more in real estate taxes next school year.

The school board on Tuesday night unanimously approved a $29.5 million budget for 2016-17 that is about $300,000 less than was originally proposed in April.

Business Manager Jennifer Callahan has listed several factors for the decrease including: the teachers union approving a contract that has employees contributing more toward health insurance; a decrease in health insurance costs due to changes in employee enrollment; an additional teacher retirement that is expected to be filled at a lower salary; and elimination of a proposed teaching position.

The district will dip into reserve funds to balance the budget, using about $750,000.

The 2.5-mill property tax increase is expected to generate about $380,000 in additional revenue.

The board did not increase taxes during the past two school years.

Spending is expected to increase by just more than 1 percent from the current school year's budget. That's due largely to a state-mandated hike in the district's contribution rate to employee pensions plus some technology upgrades and more Burrell students attending the Northern Westmoreland Career & Technology Center in New Kensington.

No new teacher, but resource officer may stay

The board also has budgeted additional money to continue the school resource officer program, though Superintendent Shannon Wagner said the district remains in discussions with Lower Burrell and Upper Burrell to reduce the district's share of the estimated $150,000 total cost.

State grants partially funded the first two years of the program, which places Lower Burrell police Detective John Marhefka in Burrell buildings throughout the school year. The city picks up 30 percent of his salary, benefits, equipment, insurance and other expenses, a cost structure that reflects the three months school is not in session and he works for the city.

It won't be known until fall whether the program will receive additional grant money, meaning the district had to budget its full $100,000 share.

The board has asked Lower Burrell Council to consider paying a larger percentage or find other ways to reduce the cost. The district also approached Upper Burrell Supervisors to consider chipping in.

Neither municipality has approved any changes to the program's cost structure.

Wagner said the current school resource officer agreement with Lower Burrell expires in July.

Liz Hayes is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at lhayes@tribweb.com or 724-226-4680.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me