Greater Latrobe school directors approve 4.5-mill tax increase
Property owners in the Greater Latrobe School District face a 4.5-mill tax increase.
School directors on Tuesday unanimously voted, 6-0, to adopt a spending plan for the 2010-11 school year that estimates expenditures at $49.4 million.
"The reason for the increase basically comes down to declining local revenue," said Dan Watson, the district's business administrator.
The 6.5 percent increase would amount to an additional $84, $114, and $296 in annual taxes for owners of homes with market values of $85,000, $115,500, and $300,000, respectively.
Most of the tax increase -- 3.5 mills -- would cover a $1.4 million revenue shortfall caused primarily by a stagnant housing market in the district, Watson said.
Included is an additional mill of tax -- or about $333,000 -- with a quarter planned to pay capital improvement costs, a quarter to cover technological expenses and half to prepare for the anticipated rise in required Public School Employees' Retirement System contributions.
The district's budgeted retirement contribution is $1.7 million for next year, or a $281,000 increase from this year, Watson said. By the 2014-15 school year, the required contribution is projected to climb to $3.3 million, which equates to a roughly 10-mill increase over that time, Watson said
In addition, Watson said, the district is raising taxes out of an uncertainty of how much its state basic education subsidy will amount to for next year.
"Under Gov. Rendell's proposed (2010-11) budget, our subsidy is about $11.1 million -- $1.2 million of that is coming from federal stimulus funding the state has taken to fill a hole in their budget," Watson said. "That federal money isn't going to be there next year, so where are they going to get money to make up any shortfall in state money next year?"
Last year, the district's proposed subsidy was $10.5 million, but ultimately was reduced to $10.2 million by the time the state passed this year's budget, Watson said.
The board applauded the state House of Representatives' recent unanimous passage of HB 2497, which Watson said would help control long-term, pension-related costs for district employees hired after July 1, 2011.
"We're very pleased they did that, and we hope the Senate will concur," board member Kay Elder said. "We urge you to contact our senator, Kim Ward."
Board members Sherry Bolha, Rhonda Laughlin and Susan Mains were absent from yesterday's meeting.