The Quaker Valley School Board has made a commitment to district property owners for the 2013-14 school year.
"We're committing not to increase property taxes this year," Superintendent Joseph Clapper said Tuesday night during a budget presentation at the school board meeting. "We're going to work really hard at that."
The board approved a resolution indicating it will remain within the set 1.7 percent index for the 2013-14 school year. Under Pennsylvania's Act 1, that means the district's property tax rate could not be increased by more than the index, or 0.36125 mills, without seeking voter approval in a referendum.
Property owners now pay 21.25 mills or $3,153 for a property assessed at $157,200, the median value in the district. Increasing taxes to the maximum under the index would raise the bill to $3,300.
Clapper said the plan is to adopt a fiscally responsibe budget while avoiding any tax increase even if it means using some fund balance. He said the district is seeking opportunities to improve efficiencies and reduce costs while maintaining a high quality educational program.
Over the last five years, he said Quaker Valley implemented several cost-saving initiatives that included eliminating 33 positions and outsourcing transportation services, resulting in a $1 million savings. The district also developed a regional sharing initiative.
Some challenges posed for next school are increased state pension costs, mandated special education services and cyber charter school tuition. Employee wage freezes, transportation cost savings and technology cost reductions are expected to help.
Clapper said the clerical union took a wage freeze last year as part of a contract and administrators have agreed in principle to take a wage freeze for 2013-14.
When Allegheny County's new court-ordered reassessments are complete, Quaker Valley and other districts will have to adjust their millage rates to be revenue neutral. As a result, Quaker Valley’s millage rate will be reduced this spring.
The district plans to hold a series of public budget meetings in the winter and spring for anyone interested. A final budget will be approved in May.