MARION CENTER: Costs of pensions, security cited in hike
June 25, 2013 10:50 AM

MARION CENTER — Real estate taxes in the Marion Center Area School District will increase 2 mills to support a 2013-14 budget adopted by school directors Monday, and to begin building revenue to meet significant expenses looming on the school district’s horizon, including pay for school security officers also approved Monday.

The directors adopted a 2013-14 general fund budget of $22,351,598, up from $21,934,792 in the current spending plan.

A major expenditure next year will be the district’s $478,716 contribution to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System, as the district’s contribution rate to PSERS rises from 12.36 percent to 16.93 percent. The contribution rate is set to climb even higher the following year.

To support next year’s budget, real estate taxes in the district will increase 2 mills to 104.48 mills. District business manager Richard Martini said the additional 2 mills will add about $25 to the annual tax bill of the average property owner in the district.

The district’s two other taxes — a wage tax of 0.85 percent and a real estate transfer tax of 0.50 percent — will remain the same.

Director Ron Oswald made the motion to bump the real estate tax up 2 mills.

“I’ve been a proponent of zero” increases in property tax rates in past years, Oswald said, but added he believes the district should begin increasing its revenues now to keep pace with the climbing PSERS contribution rate, the possibility of salary increases for teachers when contract negotiations start in early 2014 and the payroll for security officers who will start work in the fall.

“I don’t want to have to wait until two years down the road and have to raise it something astronomical,” Oswald said.

The budget and tax increase passed on identical 6-2 votes. Supporting both were Oswald, Gregg Sacco, Charles Glasser, Justin Elkin, Charles LaVan and Robert Neese.

Keith Isenberg and Karen Risinger voted no on both the budget and tax hike.

Director Lori Marshall was absent.

The directors approved a staffing scenario for five part-time security officers who collectively will work 105 hours per week, providing security at the high school-McCreery Elementary School complex and at Rayne Elementary School.

The officers will be on duty from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the high school-McCreery complex and also from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on days when after-school practices are scheduled. Officers will be on duty from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rayne Elementary. They will be supplemented by contracted guards from GPS as needed at after-school events.

The part-time officers will be paid $16 per hour and their services are estimated to cost $79,048 (the equivalent of 1.47 mills of tax) in the inaugural year.

Hired as the district’s first security officers were retired or soon-to-be-retired state police officers Michael Schmidt, Brian Bono, Thomas Bush and Kirt Allmendinger, and former Homer City police officer Kenneth Cecconi.

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