B-W Schools Adopt Preliminary '12-'13 Budget with Big Tax Increase
If eventually put into place, taxes could go up by more than 2.2 percent.
In other words, for the 2012-13 school year, without successfully applying for those exceptions, the B-W School Board could not raise taxes more than 2.2 percent unless it received a referendum, or public vote, of yes.
(Until Wednesday night, district officials had been reporting their 2012-13 non-referendum ceiling as 1.8 percent, but school board President John B. Schmotzer explained that the ceiling was pushed to 2.2 after Allegheny County Judge R. Stanton Wettick ordered on Jan. 12 that the county will use 2011 assessment numbers this year.)
Acceptable referendum exceptions include school construction—including debt incurred prior to the effective date, and electoral debt—special education expenditures and retirement contributions.
The district's 2012-13 budget totals $62,433,227.
Board members Diana Kazour, Tracy Macek and Nancy Sciulli DiNardo—who was appointed to the board at the start of Wednesday night's meeting—each voted "no" on approving the preliminary budget. The item still passed, 6-3.
When that budget was first introduced by district Superintendent Dr. Lawrence C. Korchnak on Dec. 7, he described the proposed tax hike included therein as being a "worst-case scenario."
Korchnak said that, in light of economic uncertainty, approving a measure that would give the board the authority to raise taxes is necessary as a precautionary measure. In no way does the board approving the ability to raise taxes constitute an actual tax raise, Korchnak stressed.
"Most school districts are certainly going to the max, requesting with the exceptions, just to leave the doors open (for possibly raising taxes)," Schmotzer said at a Jan. 11 board meeting. "This is just so this district has the opportunity to look at every option possible.
"Are we going to go all the way to the top, including exceptions? Who knows? That all depends on how the budget and numbers come back. But, at least, our options are there for us."
Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to propose a state education budget for 2012-13 in February. Corbett's budget will have a great impact on what the B-W School Board ultimately decides to do with its own final budget.
Check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch later on Thursday for more odds and ends from Wednesday night's school board meeting.