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Butler School Board caps possible tax hike

January 22, 2013 News Extra

BUTLER TWP — The Butler School Board won’t raise property taxes any more than 2.1 mills for the 2013-14 school year.

That is because the board Tuesday night voted to keep any increase at the state cap limit of 2.1 mills. That means the millage rate cannot rise above 93.9 mills if it increases at all. The current rate is 91.8 mills.

The tax cap, calculated by the state Department of Education, must be confirmed by Jan. 31, according to state law.

Superintendent Mike Strutt was joined by board member Helene Abramowitz in seeking to get state approval to go above the cap, but board members held back.

“You can’t balance the budget strictly on the expenditure side,” Strutt said, pushing for additional revenue. “We want to be able to make cuts without causing people to lose their jobs.”

The fight against the exceptions was led by Bill Halle and Carmen Bianco.

“We have a real incentive to try and cut,” said Bianco.

Abramowitz disagreed.

“But if you decrease the quality of education, you will also turn people away,” she said, referencing the idea that good schools attract families to a community.

“At some point we have to cut,” said Halle, who has been pushing the board to hold the line on new taxes.

The district’s student enrollment is falling, and 75 staff positions have been cut in the past two years through attrition.