Chartiers-Houston tentative budget calls for tax increase

May 16, 2014

Chartiers-Houston School District approved a preliminary budget this week with a 10.275-mill increase for the 2014-15 school year.

The board voted 9-0 to approve the $17.9 million budget, which calls for a property tax increase above the state-mandated cap of a 3-mill increase.

Each mill generates about $58,000 within the district, and the current property tax rate within the district is 110.5 mills. The owner of a home with an assessed market value of $100,000 would pay about $93 more in taxes per year under the proposed increase.

The board voted to seek exceptions from the state Department of Education, which set an index limit of a maximum 2.7 percent tax increase for the district. The district will have an operating deficit of over $1.7 million.

Pension contributions were the largest factor in the budget.

“As a result of growing pension contributions and reduced state support, Chartiers-Houston School District has experienced budget deficits of over $1 million per year for the past two years,” according to a cover letter from administration. “The district has drawn on its reserve fund to offset these deficits without raising taxes beyond the state-mandated cap, but this has depleted over half of the fund balance.”

The district’s state-mandated contribution to the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System will increase from $397,000 in 2009-10 to $1.49 million in 2014-2015. According to the district, those rates – set by the state of Pennsylvania – are expected to skyrocket to over $2 million per year by 2017.

Other factors contributing to the tax increase include the rising cost of cyberschool education, which presently costs $243,000 per year. The state Department of Education also owes the district between $250,000 and $300,000 per year for construction projects.

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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