Proposal would cap potential Greater Latrobe tax hike at 3.57 mills

Greater Latrobe School Board is considering placing a cap of 3.57 mills on any district property tax increase it could consider for 2022-23.

Business administrator Dan Watson has recommended the board adopt a resolution at its Tuesday meeting to signify it will stay within that maximum figure, in accordance with an index of 4.2%, calculated by state officials as part of Pennsylvania’s Taxpayer Relief Act.

By agreeing not to exceed the index, the school board can forgo early adoption of a preliminary budget for the coming fiscal year. Instead, the board typically would approve a tentative budget in May and adopt a final version in June.

Adopting the resolution, Watson noted, gives the district additional time to collect more accurate budget data, including enrollment and staffing projections, any expected changes in health care costs and preliminary state and federal allocations.

Greater Latrobe assesses an 85-mill tax on property, with each mill generating about $345,000.

Watson said he feels confident the district can balance its budget within the millage cap because of an upward trend in local revenue.

“We have seen slight growth in the assessed values of properties, as well as consistent collection return on our earned income tax collections,” he said. “Both have permitted us to anticipate higher local revenue collections than previously budgeted.

“Other than return on our investments, covid has had minimal impact, permitting us to be slightly less conservative in projections. This, along with the natural growth occurring within our community, has resulted in these more positive local revenue projections.”

Watson expressed hope a reported slight increase in state revenue collections will result in an increase in state subsidies to districts. Greater Latrobe is among districts receiving extra covid relief funds that can be used to cover the cost of increased classroom supports for students.

Increasing the district property tax by 3.57 mills would add more than $1.2 million in local revenue. But Greater Latrobe has stayed well within its tax cap since 2018-19, enacting increases ranging from 0.5 mills to 1.75 mills.

The board last June approved a 1-mill tax increase to help balance the district’s current $57.7 million budget.

Tax settlements eyed

On Tuesday, the board also is set to vote on settlement of tax assessment appeals for two commercial properties and one residential property. If approved, Watson said, the settlements would add $28,000 to district revenue.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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