The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 14, 2013

Blacklick school tax going up

District levy increasing for first time in decades

— Ronald Reagan was serving his first term as president the last time Blacklick Valley schools hiked real estate taxes.

Some of the district’s teachers weren’t born yet.

But Superintendent John Mastillo says the district’s 30-year streak is expected to end this year, with taxes expected to rise 14 percent.

Facing growing retirement contribution and health care costs when a high school renovation is underway, the

5.36-mill increase is a necessary move, Mastillo said.

“Health care and retirement costs are two things we’re constantly trying to keep up with. We’re talking a 10 percent increase in hospitalization alone this year,” he said.

The school board gave tentative approval this month to a $10.5 million plan that calls for a 9 percent increase in expenditures from this year’s plan.

The state Education Department allowed the district to exceed its annual tax index by about 4 mills, partly because of its current school renovation project.

The total 5.36 mill hike will increase district taxes about $54.57 annually for a taxpayer whose property has an assessed value of $10,180, Mastillo said.

Blacklick Valley’s district tax millage is the lowest in Cambria County, according to 2012 figures.

“We’ve been able to Band-Aid our facilities – just putting money in to keep everything going along, but we’re at the point where the minimal isn’t working anymore,” Mastillo said. He said that the high school badly needs a new roof, plumbing and other infrastructure upgrades.

Work began last week on the nearly $6.2 million project, which primarily involves upgrading infrastructure inside  the high school, built in 1967.

The district serves residents in Blacklick Township and the boroughs of Nanty Glo and Vintondale.

Blacklick’s board plans to give final approval to its 2013-2014 budget on June 19.

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