The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 28, 2013

Richland optimistic on taxes

Any boost minimal, school board says

David Hurst

JOHNSTOWN — Richland School District leaders are just beginning to map out their 2013-2014 spending plan, but one thing is already clear: An increase, if any, would be minimal.

School officials voted unanimously on Monday on a resolution to stay within their Act 1 tax cap, meaning they would be able to raise millage for next year by no more than 0.83 mills.

“What it means is that we’re staying within our index, which is 1.7 percent, this year,” Chairman Michael Bodolosky said, noting the district was up against a state deadline to make the decision.

The alternative would have involved seeking a special referendum or exceptions that would have allowed the board to raise millage about twice that high.

Richland requested state exceptions last year. But after approving the request, district leaders spent months cutting more than $200,000 in costs and ultimately avoided the increase.

Richland hasn't raised taxes in four years. Superintendent Thomas Fleming said board members have indicated they want to continue the trend next year if possible.

“We’re trying to live within our means,” Fleming said. “For us, that means looking at all areas and budget categories closely and being fiscally responsible.”

One major matter remains: Reaching a new contract with the district's teachers. Fleming said talks are ongoing.

Richland must adopt a tentative budget by May and a final one by June.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.