North Allegheny approves budget that holds line on taxes

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The North Allegheny school board Wednesday approved a final budget without a tax increase.

The board voted 6-3 in favor of the $139.5 million budget that holds the tax rate at 17.4039 mills.

“I’m very concerned that this budget doesn’t position us with the ability to implement any strategic initiatives,” including technology innovations, said board member Joseph Greenberg.

The administration had recommended that the board raise taxes, in part to pay for major renovations to three district buildings. But a majority of board members said they would prefer to float a bond issue for those renovations.

A bond is “traditionally how the district has approached large expenditures and renovations,” said board member Tara Fisher. “It distributes the burden in a more equitable manner for taxpayers.”

Mrs. Fisher said that the district raised taxes in 2010, 2011 and 2012. And many residents saw their taxes increase in 2013 because of the reassessment. “If we increased this year, some households would be looking at a fifth consecutive tax increase,” she said.

But board member Tom Schwartzmier said not raising taxes for two years will hurt the district down the line.

“We're really digging ourselves into a hole, and I have reservations about that.”

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