Belle Vernon OKs tentative budget |

Belle Vernon OKs tentative budget

Belle Vernon Area School Board early Tuesday approved a preliminary budget forecasting a roughly $3 million shortfall as the district prepared to ask for a judge’s permission to raise taxes higher than what Fayette County law allows.

“I’m not sure the judge will even listen to anything without a preliminary budget,” said district Solicitor Mary Friedline. “Our time and effort would be virtually wasted.”

The district recently filed a petition in Fayette County Court seeking permission to raise taxes, if needed, higher than the 10 percent cap placed on taxing bodies this year because of last year’s reassessment.

The district serves three municipalities in Fayette County — Washington Township, Fayette City and Belle Vernon — as well as Rostraver Township and North Belle Vernon in Westmoreland County.

The board, at the end of a Monday evening meeting that stretched until 1 a.m. Tuesday, approved by a 4-3 vote the preliminary spending plan, which reflected a roughly $3 million deficit requiring an additional 19.96 mills to balance.

By law, a school district has to pass a preliminary spending plan at least 30 days before making the numbers official.

If Belle Vernon Area’s preliminary numbers are adopted as the official 2003-04 spending plan, the district’s tax base would fatten by roughly 31 percent.

“All this does is set a limit, right?” asked Director Edward Naylor. “It can’t go higher?”

Naylor, after having his question answered, made the motion to approve the preliminary spending plan.

The dissenting votes came from directors Harve Anderson, Dr. L. Douglas Pepper and Joseph Stringhill. Directors Frank Muccino and Ralph Iacoboni were absent.

“This is not a final number,” Director Deborah Puglia said. “It should be considerably lower than that.”

A tax increase this year would follow the average 9.41-mill hike needed to balance the 2002-03 budget. That translated into a roughly 17 percent increase.

The increase was finalized after the board made cuts in a preliminary budget projecting a 13.25-mill hike would be needed to cover a deficit of almost $2 million.

Puglia said there are more cuts to be made in the 2003-04 preliminary spending plan.

“There are a lot of things we’re working on that are going to bring this down,” she said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.