Quaker Valley’s proposed 2020-21 budget calls for end to 7-year run of tax hikes

Wednesday, May 6, 2020 | 3:43 PM

Quaker Valley school officials say they do not yet know how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the district’s finances, but now is not the time to burden property owners with a tax hike.

“Although we cannot predict the lasting effects of this pandemic to the district’s long-term planning, too many families are experiencing difficulties at this time, and raising taxes is simply not a consideration or an option,” school board President Sarah Heres said during a recent legislative meeting.

If the school board votes to keep the real-estate tax rate at its current level, it will be the end to a seven-year run of incremental tax increases.

Since the 2013-14 school year, the property tax bill for residents in the Quaker Valley School District has increased 15%. Over the past 15 years, the district has raised property taxes a dozen times, according to the Allegheny County Treasurer’s Office.

A mill represents $1 for every $1,000 of property’s assessed value.

At the current rate of 19.4711 mills, the owner of a home with an assessed value of $100,000 receives a tax bill from the school district for $1,947.11. Residents also pay property taxes to help finance operations for the municipality in which they live as well as Allegheny County.

The school district is in the planning stages for construction of a new high school on more than 150 acres of land off Camp Meeting Road.

Last year, the school board agreed to issue up to $10 million in bonds payable over 25 years for construction of a new high school to replace the nearly 100-year-old building currently being used.

School officials have determined that the cost of renovating the aging building would be between $70 million and $75 million, but still would not provide the additional space needed or create a learning environment that best meets the needs of all students, district officials said.

An update on the project, including information about the estimated cost for the new high school, is scheduled to be discussed at the May 12 school board meeting, said district spokeswoman Angela Conigliaro.

Quaker Valley’s finance director said the board’s long-term planning efforts have helped bolster the district’s financial picture.

“We are fortunate that our board has led a strategic long-term approach to plan to save for future liabilities and capital needs that have provided the district with a strong financial position,” said Scott Antoline, director of finance and operations.

“Just as is happening in households throughout our community, we will revisit expenditures, use savings as necessary, and weather through this uncertain time together,” he said.

By law, school district’s must submit a balanced budget to the state by June 30.

District officials said despite the mandated shutdown of its buildings, Quaker Valley has continued to educate students via remote learning and has provided a number of other services including:

• Free daily breakfast and lunch

• Increased access to counseling

• Technology for students who need it for remote learning

• Support for employee health, safety and well being

• Cleaning and sanitizing in anticipation of students returning to school.

Following is a list containing information from the Allegheny County Treasurer that shows the millage rate for residents in the Quaker Valley School District in each of the past 15 years:

• 2019-20: 19.4711 mills

• 2018-19: 18.9086

• 2017-18: 18.4009

• 2016-17: 17.7389

• 2015-16: 17.3232

• 2014-15: 17.1548

• 2013-14: 16.93

• 2012-13: 21.25

• 2011-12: 20.95

• 2010-11: 20.7

• 2009-10: 19.75

• 2008-09: 19.75

• 2007-08: 19.35

• 2006-07: 18.85

• 2005-06: 16.9