$31 million East Allegheny school budget holds tax line

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East Allegheny school board on Monday night approved a $31.2 million budget for the 2013-14 school year that keeps the property tax rate at 27.54 mills.

Toni Valicenti, district business manager, said it will be the fourth year the board has held the line on property taxes. According to board members, tax increases before then had created one of the highest property tax burdens in the state for district property owners.

The budget could be reopened later after the district receives information on appeals to the recent countywide property reassessment, Ms. Valicenti said. The appeals could reduce property tax revenues.

Ms. Valicenti said she doesn't expect the district to reap a windfall from the reassessment, which is prohibited by state law. Any additional revenue from properties with increased assessments could go to refunds the district might owe to those whose property valuations have gone down, she said.

Administrators were able to trim costs in some areas of the budget, Ms. Valicenti said. Workers' compensation costs went down because losses had decreased during the last two years, and the district trimmed costs for services previously provided by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit by providing some of those services within the district, she said.

School director Frederick Miller said more meetings are planned with East Allegheny Education Association on a new teachers contract.

Mr. Miller said there has not been much progress in the talks.

District officials and board member Roxanne Eichler have said they are unwilling to increase taxes to provide raises for the teachers, saying property owners in East Allegheny still have the third-highest school tax burden in the state.

After the March school board meeting, Ms. Valicenti said the district's 128 teachers had an average salary of $68,560 in October 2012. According to a handout from the district administration, East Allegheny residents have a median household income of $25,000 a year.

Correction/Clarification: (Published June 11, 2013) An earlier version of this article misattributed the statement about progress in teacher contract negotiations. education - neigh_east

Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com


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