New Kensington-Arnold School Board approves budget with 5% property tax hike

According to members of the New Kensington-Arnold School Board, a property tax increase is either long overdue or too badly timed.

The school board voted, 6-2, Tuesday to approve the district’s $48.9 million budget for the 2022-23 school year.

It results in a 5% property tax increase, the most allowed by the district’s adjusted inflation limit set by the state.

The tax mile for the district increases by 4.57 mills, from 91.57 mills to 96.14 mills.

Council members Scott Bussard and Eric Doutt voted against the budget and the tax rate. Board member Nicholas DiCarolis was absent.

Bussard said the tax hike was the largest he had seen in his five years on the school board. He said he could have supported up to a 2.5% increase.

“In these economic times, it was not the right time,” he said. “I just thought it was bad timing.”

Doutt, who participated in the meeting remotely, could not be reached for comment on his vote.

John Cope was the only school board member voting in favor of the budget and the tax increase to comment on it at the town hall meeting. He said an increase is needed now because previous school boards have not raised property taxes for several years.

“This tax increase is a matter of survival for this school system, this school district,” Cope said. “There’s no getting around it.”

The school district will begin its new fiscal year July 1 with about $2.9 million in reserves, business manager Jeff McVey said.

The district expects to collect about $49.4 million in revenue in the 2022-23 school year, about $454,000 more than its spending forecast. The surplus would increase the district’s reserves to about $3.3 million at the end of next school year, McVey said.

The district will receive approximately $1.6 million in gambling tax funds. Each of the 3,763 approved farms in the district will get a maximum of $429 off their school tax bill.

Bond issue approved

The board voted 8-0 to issue a multi-million dollar bond for work in district schools.

The district plans to borrow $5 million, which will be added to $8 million in federal relief funds to pay for air quality improvements, energy-saving projects and clocking. of bricks in the four schools in the district.

As approved by the board, the debt ordinance sets a cap of $8 million, which is necessary to give the district the ability to work in a volatile market, said district underwriter Joe Muscatello, managing director of public finance at Stifel Public Finance.

Borrowing $5 million will increase the district’s debt to $34.8 million, Muscatello said. It will be “wrapped around” existing debt of $29.3 million, extending its repayment date from 2033-34 to 2036.

Through this method, the District’s annual debt payments will increase, but the District will primarily pay interest until most of the principal is paid in 2034-36.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Penny D. Jackson