East Allegheny school board has approved a $31.2 million budget for the 2013-14 school year that keeps taxes at 27.54 mills.
Toni Valicenti, business manager, said it will be the fourth year the board has kept real estate taxes at that rate. According to board members, earlier tax increases had caused taxpayers to have one of the highest real estate tax burdens in terms of "equalized mills" in the state.
A resident with a home assessed at $100,000 would pay $2,754 in school property taxes.
During Monday's meeting Ms. Valicenti said the budget could be reopened later if the district receives information on appeals to the recent countywide reassessment of properties. The appeals could impact school real estate tax revenue.
Ms. Valicenti said she doesn't expect the district to reap a windfall from the reassessment. Additional revenue from properties with increased assessments could be taken away by refunds the district might have to pay to people whose property valuations have gone down, she said.
The business manager said administrators were able to trim costs in some areas of the budget. Workers' compensation costs went down because losses had decreased during the past two years, and the district trimmed costs for services previously provided by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit by providing some of them within the district, Ms. Valicenti said.
To coordinate districtwide Keystone and other testing, the board reassigned Alex Eichler, son of school director Roxanne Eichler, to a new assessment data analysis coordinator position. He will also continue his former duties as an assistant to the IT coordinator in the district.
During the meeting, Cheryl Ihnat, a counselor at Logan Middle School, asked if Mr. Eichler had received any pay raise with the new job, but administrators said he took on the added responsibilities without a raise.
Director Frederick Miller said more meetings are planned with East Allegheny Education Association president Lou Gerbi to work on reaching agreement on a new teachers' contract.
He said there has not been much progress in talks.
Mrs. Eichler and other district officials have said they are unwilling to raise taxes again to pay for raises for the teachers because homeowners already have the third-highest real estate tax burden in the state under an equalized millage calculation.
After the March school board meeting, Ms. Valicenti said the district's 128 teachers in October 2012 had an average salary of $68,560. According to a handout from the superintendent, district residents have a median household income of $25,000 per year.
Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: email@example.com.