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Baldwin-Whitehall School Board Will Not Pursue Hefty Tax Increase

The board voted, 8-1, on Wednesday to, at the very least, not exceed the school district's allowable 2.2-percent millage increase for the 2013-14 school year.

For the second straight year, Baldwin-Whitehall School District officials have gotten word from the Pennsylvania Department of Education that they cannot raise their district's millage rate, without voter approval, by more than 2.2 percent.

But unlike this past year, the board's members voted, 8-1, at their meeting on Wednesday night to not apply for referendum exceptions that would have allowed them to raise the district millage rate, without voter approval, by more than that percentage.

In other words, although the B-W School Board is far from setting its final millage rate for next year—it will have to do so before the end of June—the rate will not rise more than 2.2 percent above the district's current rate of 23.40 mills.

In fact, given that the average property value in Baldwin-Whitehall will most likely increase in 2013 even after Allegheny County officials finish making decisions on all property value appeals stemming from a reassessments process, the district's millage rate could decrease in order to stay revenue-neutral and prevent a "windfall" of increased tax revenue.

To that end, District Business Manager Mark R. Cherpak informed the school board on Wednesday that, as of Jan. 4, property values in Baldwin-Whitehall are up 25 percent from 2012.

Board member Martin Michael Schmotzer, hoping that the board would instead agree to not raise the district's millage rate no matter what, cast the lone "no" vote.

"Baldwin-Whitehall is the only school district in the last five years in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that has not raised millage or taxes," Schmotzer said, "and I wanna continue that. We lowered taxes three years in a row and were neutral the last two years.

"Based on a 25-percent raise in assessments by the county, our millage of 23.4 should be reduced by approximately 5.85 mills. The unknown quantity in this equation is that the county executive (Rich Fitzgerald), in an unprecedented move, has allowed appeals to be heard until March 31 for this current tax year, which is going to further hinder the making of a budget.

"But I'm looking for at least a 5-millage reduction."

District solicitor Ed Lawrence then advised board members that, whether they accept the state's 2.2-percent allowance or not, they could still elect to lower the district's millage rate with their final vote at the end of June.

"It (Wednesday's resolution) does not set things in figures or set the millage," Lawrence said. "It only says that you will not increase the millage above the rate allowed (2.2 percent).

"We're still working with a relatively blank slate."

Board member George L. Pry motioned to accept the maximum 2.2-percent allowance for now. Larry Pantuso seconded.

The district's current rate of 23.40 equates to $2,340 per year for anyone with a property valued at $100,000 (land and building value combined). (Click here to calculate your individual taxes based on that millage.)

Read through other Baldwin-Whitehall School Board items here.

And check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch on Thursday for more news from Wednesday night's school board meeting.

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Sasafras Jackson January 18, 2013 at 03:54 PM
In the above aforementioned picture, do my gentle eyes deceive me or is that former USA Olympic Champion, Kurt Angle glaring into the camera? I was not aware that he was an official in Baldwin-Whitehall. His expression/demeanor speaks to me. It is saying “Friends of the community - know that while Kurt Angle is on the job, no millage rate will be left un-suplexed. I will ankle lock our budget and make it submit to my submission.” Thank you, Kurt Angle. God Bless you and God Bless Friday.
loyalbaldwinfan January 18, 2013 at 04:37 PM
I'm sure Mr. Pantuso will greatly appreciate the resemblance between him and Kurt Angle... I wonder if he has ever heard that one before. Funny guy you are Sasafras:)
MelissaMc January 18, 2013 at 05:04 PM
I would hope they would lower it considerably. My assessment has increased substantially and that increase and the payroll tax increase will take a signifigant chunk of money each month from our wallets. I really wish the state would do away with this insane property tax and raise sales tax for everyone. I've lived outside of PA and have never seen anything like what goes on here, especially in Allegheny county.
Billee January 18, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Lower or neutral taxes have been greatly appreciated however keep in mind that the economy is unstable and still could crash...thus resulting in bond defaults. Also not to forget teacher contracts approaching the table with PSERS liabilities as a side dish. We haven't forgot our hospitality to the general public... there are assistance programs out there to help those in need if taxes go up. I have seen good table manners by the Baldwin Whitehall School Board and our administration ...however at times I'm beautifully confused. ;)
NE12Ukid January 18, 2013 at 10:49 PM
" the payroll tax increase " Just for the record, the so called increase, is actually just a return to regular rates taken out for SS retirement and disabilities, after the Dems fought a year before to keep the lower rate. This year the Republicans won that particular argument, and the rate went back to 6.2, up from the temporary reduction rate of 4.2% workers have been enjoying for two years.
Billee January 19, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Sassy...maybe the same people who are not in favor of a tax increase would consider a school district merger to feed their appetites instead. My grandmother always told me Stone Soup was the BEST! Or are the two apples and oranges...Happy New Year to you too! Like you and I said... beautifully confused. If you care... try to help me at least understand some and earn a C! A... c is good enough for me. That's what Cookie Monster taught me! Results of a latch key..although my parents tried and done their best by and for me!
NE12Ukid January 19, 2013 at 03:48 AM
". Also not to forget teacher contracts approaching the table with PSERS liabilities as a side dish. " Does no one ever mention that a. Teacher contracts do not decide PSERS contributions b. While teachers (and other PSERS members) contributed every year, the employers took a holiday and contributed nothing or very little for several years, but foolishly did not put aside this savings for when it became time to pay the piper. c. Teachers contributions to PSERS have gone up significantly in recent years.
bd January 19, 2013 at 01:01 PM
In truth, the Dems did not oppose raising the payroll tax back to 6.2%. They need the money for their entitlement programs.
cc January 19, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Teachers should be paying for most of their retirement and for the own medical just like most do in other jobs. So sick and tired of teachers having everything handed to them on a silver platter. We got teachers in Baldwin who could care less about what the students learn, they are only their for their benefits.
Billee January 19, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Exactly...taxpayer increases and administration district over budgets could be transferred at the end of the year into unfunded liability for PSERS built into your district budgets with yearly contingencies to withdraw obligations to contributions if emergency balancing is needed. I see why parents withdraw from parental invovment... you seem to have such inner being ANGER or maybe you just didn't understand this beautifully confused diverse parent. ;)
Billee January 19, 2013 at 08:54 PM
To make it a fair playing field put this in your play book! Add administrators with our teachers and district secondary staff to the under budget transfer savings account for distribution when available if main budget is in good standing. Add to PSERS and for pay raises and bonuses as your rewards for your grade A+ ratings. Split all reward amounts evenly and accordingly. That way the animosity, bitterness and lost time can be accounted for and we can put our children back in OUR focus on center stage. Our stage is state of the art and safe now..use the under budget amount to start your rewards account if there is any left! PSERS and Staff bonous are important side dishes... however OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT SCRAPS!
NE12Ukid January 19, 2013 at 11:32 PM
PSERS employee contribution rates Class T-E - 7.5% - 9.5% or Class T-F - 10.3%- 12.3%
JC January 20, 2013 at 06:52 AM
Sell South Hills Country Club and build houses and it will solve all of our problems. The school board thumped their chests for years of "we have not raised taxes" and that was because of the Holly Hill (Holy Hell) golf course in North Baldwin being turned into many expensive homes that pay a lot of real estate taxes.
cc January 20, 2013 at 09:26 AM
Billie what other school district would want to merge with Baldwin/Whitehall School District. I really doubt that Brentwood or West Mifflin would. Our School Board and Administration is a joke and would rather take money from teaching our students to create Dean of Students positions.
cc January 20, 2013 at 01:44 PM
JC, did you actually see how much South Hills Country Club pays in County Taxes a year $27,880.44. I'm sure they are also paying their fair share in School Taxes to Baldwin School District and to Whitehall Borough. Did they turn you down for membership? Many people spend good money to belong there and they do support our community. Building homes on the property won't solve the tax problem in Baldwin Whitehall. Getting rid of the jokers on the School Board and the Administration would be a good start. South Hills Country Club is in Whitehall not North Baldwin. Maybe they should tear down half the homes over by the Police Dept and build decent homes that people would want to live in.
cc January 20, 2013 at 01:46 PM
We in Allegheny County are paying enough already in Sales Tax. 7% vs the 6% most 90% of the state is paying. I don't want to see clothing and all food taxes. What we need is to get rid of Entitlement and the ones that live off the system.
cc January 20, 2013 at 01:47 PM
bd so true.
NE12Ukid January 20, 2013 at 06:10 PM
bd, I said Dems fought a year before to keep the lower rate, not this year. December 2010, 2% reduction scheduled to last only 1 year, a “payroll tax holiday.” it was rightly called,to help lower and middle-class taxpayers thru recession by putting more after-tax cash in their pockets. This 2% payroll tax cut reduction could save a worker as much as $2,136-- twice that for married couples. End of 2011 Congress agreed to extension then another extension, as workers got accustomed to fatter paychecks but not paying attention that the end was near. NEITHER Obama nor Romney promised another extension, January 1, 2013, it expired.
MelissaMc January 20, 2013 at 11:55 PM
cc- I lived in a state where food and clothing was taxed and our property and school taxes never went about $1500 in the entire time I lived there. I have ZERO problem with taxing those sort of things. Because then the people buying the highest ticket clothing pay the highest tax.
NE12Ukid January 21, 2013 at 12:40 AM
<< I lived in a state where food and clothing was taxed and our property and school taxes never went about $1500 in the entire time I lived there. I have ZERO problem with taxing those sort of things. Because then the people buying the highest ticket clothing pay the highest tax.>> and the truly poor are taxed on FOOD? Just so you can afford a higher taxed property? Pros and cons to either system.
Carol Ann January 26, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Pennsylvania's legislature is being re-introduced to HB/SB76 - which abolishes your school board's authority to seize your home and eliminates the School Property Tax, lowering your monthly household expenses by an average of $300./month!! It’s time to get to work on our first task of the new legislative session. Co-sponsorship memos have been posted for both the House and Senate versions of the Property Tax Independence Act (HB/SB76) and we need to encourage as many Representatives and Senators as possible to co-sponsor the legislation before the formal introductions that will take place in a few weeks. Please, review some of the talking points from the document called "Extracts from the Independent Fiscal Office analysis HB 1776-SB 1400 PUBLIC 01-06-13.pdf" in the files section of this page that contains extracts from the Independent Fiscal Office analysis of the legislation. The HB 76 co-sponsorship memo is here: http://goo.gl/fRwER The SB 76 co-sponsorship memo is here: http://goo.gl/GYL50 Contact information for Representatives and Senators by Zip Code or county is here: http://goo.gl/euuN8 Sincerely, Carol Brian Junkologist, member of PTCC (Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition), on face book

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