News Column

No tax increase for CASD property owners

June 27, 2014

By Mark Hofmann, The Daily Courier, Connellsville, Pa.



June 27--Property owners in the Connellsville Area School District will not see their real estate taxes increase during 2014-15.

The board on Thursday voted to keep the current millage rate of 12.60.

The board also passed its 2014-15 budget, making significant cuts to lower the deficit.

"I'm very happy we cut the deficit from $3.4 million down to $1.7 million," said Paul Means, chairman of the district's finance committee.

The committee, who worked with district Business Manager Eugene Cunningham, presented the full board with three options Thursday.

Two of the options included tax increases that would have raised the millage to 12.79 with a deficit of $1,493,779 or raised the millage rate to 12.99 with a deficit of $1,295,493.

The third option, which was passed by the board, left a deficit of $1,692,065, with no tax increase. The district will use money from its fund balance to balance the budget. The district's fund balance was at $5,998,874, prior to the board deciding to use the money from that account to balance the new budget.

Revenues in the 2014-15 budget are listed at $68,259,314 with expenditures at $69,951,379.

The tentative budget passed in May had a deficit of $3,479,256.

Cunningham said cuts were made to lower the deficit, the largest one being opting to only fill two of 11 positions that were left vacant because of retirements. This move saved the district $732,472.

The vote on the budget was unanimous. Director Gary Wandel was absent.

Means said the board acted conservatively on the budget by overestimating the Public School Employees Retirement System obligation, which has the district covering 21 percent. Gov. Tom Corbett announced he would like to reduce that percentage to 19.

"That can save us $300,000," Means said.

Even though a reduction to 19 percent will bring in additional revenues, board President Jon Detwiler said if the district was operating with only a five percent obligation like it had four years ago, it would be running the district with a surplus.

Detwiler said if the obligation would go any higher, many districts could not afford to operate.

"It's impossible to stay open at those levels," he said.

In other business, the board:

--adopted the Connellsville Area Career and Technical Center budget at $4,139,450.

--accepted the worker's compensation insurance policy from Highmark Casualty Insurance for the upcoming school year at an estimated annual premium of $265,312, which is about $77,000 less than last year.

--renewed the district's property/casualty insurance policy with PSBA/ACE USA for the upcoming school year at an estimated annual premium of $169,363, which came with an increase of about $20,000 because of recent renovations.

There will be no July meeting.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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(c)2014 The Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pa.)

Visit The Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pa.) at www.triblive.com

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Source: Daily Courier (Connellsville, PA)


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