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BLAIRSVILLE-SALTSBURG: For sixth year, board holds line on taxes

by on May 22, 2014 10:54 AM

SALTSBURG — A proposed budget for the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District holds the line on taxes for the sixth year in a row.

The proposed budget of $31,517,344 is an increase of 3.45 percent — about $1 million — from last year’s budget, said Eric Kocsis, business manager.

Increases in expenditures are reflected in salaries, retirement, Social Security, health insurance and services through organizations such as ARIN IU 28 and the Indiana County Technology Center.

The majority of the increase — $248,000 — is due to rising pension costs, Kocsis said.

And while a $1 million contingency fund allows the school district to hold the line on taxes this year, and most likely next year, it’s possible that modest tax increases may be necessary in the future, Kocsis said.

Changes in revenue include increases in funds collected from real estate taxes, earned income taxes and the local services tax.

With the balanced budget, the millage rate for Indiana County remains at 126.34, and the millage rate remains at 109.36 for residents in Westmoreland County.

Act I gaming funds of $1,133,935 will allow properties that qualify for homestead/farmstead exclusions a $306.50 credit in Indiana County and a $306.62 credit in Westmoreland County.

The proposed budget is available for review at the business office during normal hours until a final vote at a 7 p.m. meeting June 24.

Kocsis was pleased with the budget and praised everyone for their work toward making it happen.

“Six years in a row without a tax increase, I think that’s really good,” Kocsis said.

In other business, the board:

• Will advertise for bids to replace the bleachers at the Blairsville football stadium. The work is expected to cost around $150,000 but will provide needed upgrades to the area, said Rick Harper, of the building and grounds committee. The new bleachers will be higher off the ground to allow for a better view, and will have handicap-accessible seating. Also, the cheerleaders will have a designated area in front of the bleachers for cheering.

• Will seek bids to replace the air conditioning at Blairsville Middle/High School auditorium and cafeteria. The auditorium work is expected to cost about $200,000, and the cafeteria $100,000.

• Approved paving the Saltsburg Middle High School track high jump with blacktop for $12,460 by Harvey Paving of Homer City.

• Will advertise for bids for repairs to a slope at the Blairsville football field damaged by erosion during a recent heavy rainstorm.

• Authorized architects HHSDR to perform a feasibility study for a storage building and moving the visitor bleachers at SMHS stadium.

• Approved a proposed list of graduates from Saltsburg and Blairsville.

• Accepted the resignation request of Ian Magness, who had previously announced his intent to resign to accept a position as superintendent in the Leechburg School District. The board will advertise to fill the position of assistant superintendent.

• Approved a contract with Citizens’ Ambulance Services for 2014-15 for $2,250.

• Approved an increase to $4 per adult ticket for football games.

Margaret Weaver has served as a Gazette staff writer since 2006. She covers Clymer Borough, the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District and Blairsville court, and also works in the areas of layout, design and editing. She can be reached at
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