The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 14, 2014

Westmont Hilltop school taxes not increasing

JOHNSTOWN — The Westmont Hilltop school board on Monday agreed to hold the line on next year’s taxes, filled a vacancy on the board and hired a business manager who also will double as an assistant superintendent.

School districts at this time of year are required to adopt a resolution limiting tax increases to the level set by an inflation index. Westmont’s level is set at 2.6 percent.

Westmont’s board decided to forgo any increase and  unanimously approved a motion by board member John DeMarco not to raise taxes for the 2014-15 term.

It would be the third consecutive year without a tax increase.

After the meeting, DeMarco said that he and a number of other board members campaigned on the pledge not to raise taxes. Taxpayers already are paying enough taxes, he said.

The board selected Joe Kesslak out of four candidates to fill a vacancy created when Diana Schroeder resigned in December.

The board now has a full complement of nine members.

Kesslak, who has been active in the community, has two children in the school district.

The board unanimously approved the hiring of Donald Irwin as the business manager and assistant superintendent. His salary was set at $108,000.

The opening was created when the former business manager resigned. The board then added the duties of assistant superintendent to the position.

Board President Michele Trevorrow said Irwin is one of the top business managers in the state.

The board needs someone to see it through the financial matters and building-improvement projects that lie ahead, she said.

Board member Jeffrey Masterson said Irwin will have the answers to any questions that the board may have while making decisions.

In other matters, Superintendent Susan Anderson said that Grade 3 teachers and students donated a total of 290 items such as gloves, mittens, hats, gloves and scarves to the Women’s Help Center.

Art students from the middle school participated in the window-painting contest in Westwood during an event to benefit the Caleb Price Heart Fund, she said. The students won first and third places and donated the $150 they were awarded to the heart fund.

Students Madison Milligan, Josh Livingston and Matthew Wehner will participate in the regional choir, which will perform next month at the Greater Johnstown School District, she said.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at FrankNews10.

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