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Pittsburgh School Board Adopts 2013 General Fund Budget

Last week, the board adopted its 2013 budget, but the millage rate won't be set until its Jan. 23 meeting.

The Pittsburgh Board of Public Education adopted the district's $521.8 million general fund budget for 2013 last week, but will wait to set the millage rate until its Jan. 23 meeting.

Earlier this month, the district recommended the board set a tax rate that would raise property tax revenue, after 11 years of no increase, to create a reserve fund to cover the cost of real estate appeals.

On Dec. 10, Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge R. Stanton Wettick provided an extension to the county’s reassessment timeline and the district’s timeline for setting the millage rate and homestead exemption from gaming revenues.

The board is anticipated to vote on the millage and homestead exemption at its Jan. 23 legislative meeting.

The 2013 budget represents a decrease of $8 million, or 1.5 percent, from the 2012 general fund budget. Between June 2011 and July 2012, the district took several steps to address its fiscal challenges including school closures, class size and feeder pattern adjustments, as well as staff reductions.

“Due to the steps taken by our board over the past school year we have made close to $50 million of reductions,” Superintendent Linda Lane said.

“Even with these reductions we still face a number of increasing expenditures that are beyond our control, such as employee health care and pension costs, rising utilities and a tax base that is not growing. Despite these challenges, we remain committed to living within our means and using our resources wisely so that we can serve our students better and provide them the world class education they deserve.”

The budget includes an operating deficit of $9.8 million, requiring the district to spend resources from its dwindling fund balance. This fund balance is expected to decline from $66.0 million at the end of 2012 to $56.2 million at the end of the 2013.

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