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Norwin School District considering real estate tax hike |

Norwin School District considering real estate tax hike

| Monday, November 14, 2016 10:15 p.m.

Property owners in the Norwin School District are likely to face a real estate tax hike as high as 2.49 mills, equal to a 3.3 percent increase, to finance operations for the 2017-18 school year, school officials said Monday.

The school board is expected to vote Nov. 21 on a measure to allow the school district to raise taxes in the upcoming fiscal year to the state-permitted maximum of 2.49 mills to 77.69 mills in North Huntingdon, Irwin and North Irwin, which would generate about $870,000 in revenue, Jude Abraham, the district’s interim director of business affairs, said at the board’s workshop meeting.

The increase in tax revenue, in large part, is being driven by higher employee retirement costs, which Abraham said would be close to $1 million in the 2017-18 school year.

The school district could petition the state Department of Education for permission to raise the real estate taxes higher if necessary for certain exceptions, but only if needed to pay its portion of the state employee retirement costs or special education expenses, Abraham said. But, requesting a higher tax increase “you bring a lot of excess attention” to the district, Abraham said.

Norwin property owners saw their real estate taxes increased for the current school year by 2.25 mills to 75.20 mills in Westmoreland County and by 1.59 mills to 11.68 mills for the Allegheny County portion of the district —just 18 property owners in White Oak and South Versailles. The tax levy in the Westmoreland County portion of the district includes a 1.2-mill tax for the Norwin Public Library.

Superintendent William Kerr told the board the district does not intend to seek a waiver of the maximum permissible tax hike and has not in the past.

“We have had a lot of internal discussions to live within our means and stay within the 3.3 percent,” increase, Kerr said.

In order to reduce expenses, Kerr said he has notified the district staff that it can not make unbudgeted purchases except for emergency repairs or for high school graduation.

Kerr said he has notified the staff to expect the same level of funding in the upcoming year for all school buildings and positions. If there are any retirements or resignations, the administrations will look closely at whether to fill those positions, the superintendent said.

Because of the changes in the state formula for funding basic education subsidies school districts receive, Kerr said it appears that Norwin will only get a 1.5 percent increase in state aid, rather than the 3 percent increases it received under the previous formula.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or

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