Bethel Park millage rate increase lower than expected

Published Jun 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm (Updated Jun 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm)

The Bethel Park School Board on June 25 approved a $76.11 budget for the 2013-2014 school year, which includes a millage increase that is less than district administrators had originally calculated.

Board members approved a millage increase of 0.45 mills, making the district millage rate 21.86.

The current tax rate is 21.41 after the revenue neutral adjustment necessary because of the Allegheny County reassessments.

The budget was approved by a vote of 6-1, with board members David Amaditz and Russ Spicuzza absent. Board member Ronald Sustich voted against the millage rate and made a motion to set the rate at 21.99.

Sustich said he was concerned that the district is using $255,000 from the fund balance to balance the budget. He said he is concerned that if the state restructures the funding of school districts away from property taxes that the district would be stuck with that rate.

Other board members however, refused to second the motion and said they are confident that the state will stay with the current funding structure.

Dr. Tim Campbell said he did not find using .4 percent of the fund balance to be risky.

“I don’t think we should burden the taxpayers,” said Campbell. “I don’t think we should raise folks taxes on what ifs.”

District officials also said that costs fluctuate during the school year and it is possible that the district might not have to use the allocated portion of the fund balance.

Board members began the meeting by formally signing a new four-year contract with the district transportation union and thanking union members, whose contract includes wage freezes and the members picking up more of their healthcare costs.

“We are trying to be fiscally responsible,” said Campbell. “The transportation workers understood that and dealt with it.”

The district is currently in negotiations with the teachers union, which has been working under a contract that expired nearly three years ago.

At a previous meeting, Leonard Corazzi, district budget director, explained that the finance department had built possible salary increases generated by possible settlement of the contract into budget, but he declined to discuss specifics. The district also had to formulate the budget upon calculations of revenue that might be generated or lost due to tax assessment appeals that have not yet been settled, explained Matthew Howard, district business manager. In other business, the board lowered the prices for all-sports passes for athletic events.

Howard has said the administration believes the lower prices will lead to more people purchasing them.

Vicki Flotta, district communications director, said the price for the adult passes was lowered from $110 to $100 and the student passes fell from $50 to $30.

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