Pine-Richland proposes no tax increase

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Pine-Richland school directors will vote Monday on a 2014-15 spending plan that holds the line on the property tax rate while forecasting expenditures of about $73.5 million.

A slight shortfall in revenue — about $600,000 — will be taken from the district’s fund balance for capital improvements.

The current millage rate is 19.21 mills for property owners in Pine and Richland.

Real estate taxes are the district’s biggest single source of revenue and are expected to yield more than $48 million in the next fiscal year, beginning July 1. This year, the budgeted income from real estate taxes was about $46 million. The growth is attributed to the increasing value of property. Each mill will generate about $2,468,000 in the coming year. This year, the figure was about $2,424,000 per mill.

The budget proposal before the board Monday is one based on “a number of assumptions and estimates,” according to finance director Dana Siford. Those unknowns include pending assessment appeals, approval of the state budget and the district allocations proposed in that budget — about consistent with this year’s allocations — and employee salaries.

The district is negotiating labor agreement with the teachers union. Personnel costs account for about 63 percent of the total budget.

One change in the budget includes an activity fee that is levied on students in grades 7 through 12. Next year, the fee will be $100, up from $80. “We have reduced the list of activities for which the fee applies. The increase in fee is expected to be revenue neutral,” Ms. Siford noted.

The district will pay about $9.3 million in debt service for capital projects, and some bond issues may be able to be refinanced at a lower interest rate to save the district money.

A draft version of the budget had anticipated staffing costs at about $455,000 higher than the amount forecast in the final budget. Ms. Siford said the change reflects retirements, resignations, and other personnel related costs. There are no layoffs or program cuts anticipated, she said.

About $590,000 in capital improvements are planned for the coming year, the single most expensive being districtwide roof repairs at about $150,000.

While the property tax rate is proposed to hold steady in the coming fiscal year, Ms. Siford said she is unable to predict what will happen in the future. “We will continue to assess financial projections to forecast budgetary challenges for years to come,” she said.

For the 2013-14 fiscal year, taxes were raised 2.61 percent (0.4886 mills).

Karen Kane: or 724-772-9180.

Karen Kane: or at 724-772-9180.

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