Pine-Richland finance chief: No advice to raise tax for index.

February 15, 2024
2 mins read

TLDR: Pine-Richland School District in Pennsylvania may not raise the real estate tax rate for the 2024-25 fiscal year. The district last raised taxes seven years ago and currently has a surplus of about $74,000 in its operating fund. The school board voted against a recommended 5.3% rate increase, as the director of financial and operational services stated it did not make sense given the current financial standing of the district. The district’s proposed budget for 2024-25 shows estimated revenues of $104.388 million and expenditures of $115.326 million, resulting in an apparent deficit of $10.938 million. However, the deficit includes a planned transfer of over $11 million to the district’s capital fund for various projects. The final budget will be approved in June.

Pine-Richland School District last raised the real estate tax rate seven years ago, and it may hold steady again for 2024-25.

The school board voted in January not to exceed an increase of 5.3% for next year, as per the base index set for the district as set by the state Department of Education.

“That is not a recommendation of mine right now,” Christopher Juzwick, director of financial and operational services, said at the board’s Feb. 12 finance governance meeting. “That does not make sense at the moment, when your operational revue is exceeding your operational expenditures.”

A draft version of Pine-Richland’s proposed 2024-25 final general operating fund budget shows an estimated $104.388 million in revenues and $115.326 million in expenditures, resulting in an apparent deficit of $10.938 million.

The list of expenditures, though, calls for a transfer of slightly over $11 million to the district’s capital fund, which finances projects with long-term benefits. Major upgrades in the works include new heating, ventilation and air-condition systems at Wexford and Richland elementary schools. Without the budgetary transfer, the operating fund’s surplus is about $74,000.

“It’s slight,” Juzwick said, “but we would still show one.”

As of June 30, Pine-Richland had a fund balance, representing assets minus liabilities, of $36.386 million. Of that amount, $18.817 million, or 51.7%, was assigned for capital projects.

For the 2017-18 school year, the district increased the real estate tax rate from 19.2083 mills to its current 19.5867 mills, with the intent of using the proceeds to finance capital repairs and replacements to equipment, infrastructure and facilities.

If the rate stands, the owner of a property valued at the district’s median of $270,500 will continue to pay $5,298.20. According to information presented at the governance meeting for comparative purposes, a 5.3% rate increase would boost that amount to $5,578.98. All district landowners who qualify for a Homestead/Farmstead Exclusion, primarily granted for owner-occupied residential property, receive a $217.35 reduction in their tax bills. The amount is based on Allegheny County gaming revenues.

Regarding Pine-Richland’s revenues and expenditures for 2024-25, Juzwick pointed out several unknown factors at this point, including what the district will receive in subsidies from the state and how upcoming negotiations for a personnel contract will proceed. An adjustment to Allegheny County’s common level ratio, which measures how base-year assessments compare with current real estate market valuations, look to affect district revenues further. The ratio for 2024 represents an assessment of 54.5% of market value, down from 63.6% last year.

While the district’s tax base shows consistent year-to-year growth, Superintendent Brian Miller expects changes in the common level ratio to “flatten out” the district’s reaping the financial benefits.

Pine-Richland’s 2024-25 spending plan will undergo further review and revision prior to May 6, when the school board plans to vote on approving a proposed final budget. Adoption of the final budget and setting the real estate tax rate is anticipated on June 10. Budgetary and financial information can be viewed at .

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