MURRYSVILLE (KDKA) — Spring time is great for kids on the school playground, but not always good for taxpayers as many school districts look for ways to raise property taxes for the coming 2012-2013 school year.
Under current state law, school districts can only raise taxes by an inflation adjusted amount, usually around 2 percent.
If they go up more than that, they have to get voter approval in a referendum.
But there is a way around that law, and 199 school districts just got approved by the state’s Department of Education to do just that.
Some 35 local districts can raise taxes more than normally allowed including Bethel Park, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Mt. Lebanon, North Allegheny, North Hills, Peters, Seneca Valley, Uniontown and Upper St. Clair.
Approved to raise taxes an additional 3.43 mills, Franklin Regional’s Director of Financial Services Jon Perry says taxes won’t go up that much.
“At this point in time, we would not be recommending to the board to utilize any of the millage, the 3.43 mills that was approved above the index,” Perry told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano.
Last year, more than half the districts that got the millage approval did not use it, and the state says more school districts are learning to live within their means.
Tim Eller, a spokesman for the Department of Education, says, “Sixty percent of the school districts statewide did not request to go over their index.”
“They have managed their finances, they have been very fiscally sound,” he says. “Their board has taken the necessary action to keep their spending under control, and they have planned appropriately.”
But with pension payments up a third and the state cutting funding back, Perry acknowledges future difficulties.
“Without an overall turnaround in the economy, I think it will be more challenging years ahead.”