Higher school taxes possible in USC

Published Dec 10, 2013 at 9:22 am (Updated Dec 10, 2013 at 9:22 am)

Upper St. Clair School District administrators told the school board Dec. 9 that it recommends the district apply to the state for an exception to raise taxes higher than the inflation rate, as it did in 2012.

Frosina Cordisco, director of business and finance for the district, said Dec. 9 that she will be recommending that the board apply to the state in January for an exception to raise taxes beyond the 2.1 percent inflation rate of 0.450 mills. She’s recommending an exception of an additional 0.316 mills to cover pension costs and an additional 0.070 mills to cover additional special education costs.

This would mean a tax hike of 0.836 mills if the district were to ask the state for the maximum amount, and the state were to give its approval. She said that would amount to a $1,704,817 tax hike, which would cost residents with a home assessed at $200,000 an additional $167 in taxes.

Cordisco said Dec. 9 that even if the district chose to raise taxes by 0.836 mills, it would still mean a budget deficit of $1,654,123 without further cuts.

She said the petition she is recommending is for the maximum exception allowed by law, in order the have the most flexibility for the board when adopting a final budget in May or June 2014. If granted the exception, the district can then choose to raise taxes by any amount up to the limit. If they do not apply for an exception, they must declare their intention to not raise taxes higher than the inflationary Act 1 index, which she expects to be 2.1 percent for the 2014-15 school year.

Cordisco said the district last applied for an exception in January of 2012, which it was granted. The district elected to raise taxes by the maximum of 1.618 mills in the 2012-13 budget, but then did not raise taxes again for the 2013-14 budget.

She said if it chooses to apply to the state for the exceptions, the district must file a preliminary budget before Jan. 30 showing that its expenses exceed its revenue. They must then by Feb. 9 declare a public notice of intent to adopt the preliminary budget, and the preliminary budget showing the tax hike with the exceptions must be adopted by Feb. 19.

Cordisco said Dec. 9 the budgetary assumptions she made when calculating the proposed increase included additional payments of $1.5 million into the state retirement fund (PSERS), which will be reimbursed by $750,000 by the state; a 10 percent increase in health care costs, or about $710,000; and the loss of about $321,000 in federal revenue.

In other business at the Dec. 9 board meeting, the board adopted its schedule of meetings for 2014.

The board will meet as a committee-of-the-whole on Jan. 13, Feb. 10, Mar. 10, April 7, May 12, June 9, Aug. 4, Sept. 8, Oct. 13 and Nov. 10. There are no committee meetings in July or December.

The board will hold its regular board meetings on Jan. 27, Feb. 24, Mar. 24, April 22, May 27, June 17, Aug. 18, Sept. 22, Oct. 27, Nov. 24 and Dec. 8. The board will hold a reoraganizational meeting on Dec. 1, and will hold no regular meeting in July.

All meetings will be held at 7 p.m. in the central office board room.

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