$62.5 million McKeesport Area school budget includes tax increase

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McKeesport Area School Board approved a proposed final budget of $62.5 million for the 2014-15 school year, including a 0.48 mill tax increase for district property owners at its meeting Wednesday night.

The tax increase, approved by a 7-2 vote, would bring the millage rate to 15.70 from its current rate of 15.22. Board members Christopher Halaszynski and Steven Kondrosky dissented.

"I just needed a lot more information in regards to the monies and how it's being used before I say yes or no," Mr. Kondrosky said after the meeting.

The increase would cost an additional $25 to $30 a year in real estate taxes for the average property owner, and generate an additional $400,000 in tax revenue for the district.

Business manager Dave Seropian said the increase would help offset some of the district’s largest expense increases, including charter school tuition payments, retirement contributions and debt service payments.

Charter school tuition payments are expected to increase by $617,000 to a total of $4.9 million. Retirement contributions will rise by $1.2 million to $5.4 million and debt service payments total $6.2 million for the school year.

The board approved the elimination of 11 professional positions for the coming school year, including math, business technology, auto mechanics and special education teaching positions at the high school. Some, such as the high school graphic arts teacher and librarian, will be turned into part-time positions.

Overall, the board expects the changes would save the district l $250,000.

The district is required to publicly advertise the proposed final budget for at least 30 days before approving a final budget by the state-mandated June 30 deadline.

Clarece Polke: cpolke@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1889.

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