ShareThis Page

Greater Latrobe school directors approve 4.5-mill tax increase

| Wednesday, June 23, 2010

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.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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