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Greater Latrobe eyes 2.36-mill cap on potential tax hike | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Greater Latrobe eyes 2.36-mill cap on potential tax hike

Jeff Himler
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Greater Latrobe Senior High School

Greater Latrobe School Board is considering setting a 2.36-mill cap on a potential property tax increase for the 2019-20 school year.

That maximum hike, which would raise an estimated $802,400 in additional revenue for the district, is in line with an adjusted 2.9 percent Act 1 index limit determined by a state formula.

The board is expected to vote on the cap at its Jan. 22 meeting.

“Our starting point will be at that level and we’ll continue to work down from there,” district Business Administrator Dan Watson said of the 2.36-mill maximum.

By staying within the tax-hike limit, as it has since 2011-12, Greater Latrobe avoids having to develop an early preliminary budget for the coming school year and, under the terms of Pennsylvania’s Act 1 Taxpayer Relief Act, does not have to seek voter approval before enacting a possible tax hike.

“Adopting the resolution allows for additional time to collect more accurate data pertaining to budget needs,” Watson wrote in his recommendation to the school board.

As the district gets closer to the May adoption of a tentative 2019-20 budget, more reliable figures will be available for projected health care and special education costs, student enrollment and staffing needs, and preliminary state and federal allocations, Watson noted.

While dollar amounts have yet to be fixed, Watson said teacher pension obligations as well as special education expenses are expected to have a major impact on next year’s budget.

As in the previous school year, Watson said, students have moved into the district who require special education services.

“We’re hoping we’ll get some increased subsidy from the state to help offset some of those uncontrollable costs,” he said.

After passing the proposed Act 1 tax resolution, the district will have five days to submit budget projections and a proposed tax increase to the state Department of Education, which must verify that the potential hike falls within the index.

This school year’s half-mill increase resulted in the current real estate tax rate of 81.25 mills.

Greater Latrobe exceeded the Act 1 index once, in 2010-11 — increasing the property tax by 4.5 mills, compared to the cap of 2.48 mills.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.