CONNELLSVILLE — Property taxes in the Connellsville Area School District will remain at their current rate for the 2019-20 fiscal year after the school board held the line on a proposed increase.

After multiple attempts at a resolution this week, the board on Thursday voted 5-4 to keep the property tax rate at 14.2481 mills.

An initial motion made Thursday to raise the millage rate by 0.4702 to 14.7183 mills failed to garner a majority vote.

While school directors Paul Harshman, Bryan Kisiel, Kevin Lape and Dan Martucci supported the action, the measure was stopped by Donald Grenaldo, David Martray, Francis Mongell, Michael Omatick and David Panzella voting in opposition.

Moments later, Grenaldo, Martray, Mongell, Omatick and Panzella voted to maintain the current tax rate.

Business manager Marlene Grenell said she had recommended a tax increase to help stave off expenses over the next several years.

“I felt that it would be responsible to raise it now so that in the next four to five years it would help alleviate any deficits that we know are definitely coming up,” Grenell said.

Grenell has projected net losses for the district of $732,240; $2.8 million; $4.3 million; and $5.5 million over the next four years, respectively, due to dwindling revenue streams. On Monday, the board adopted a $75.9 million budget for the 2019-20 school year that used monies from the district’s capital reserve fund, as well as cuts to multiple positions through attrition and other expenditures, to close a deficit that exceeded $730,000 a month ago.

“The fact that they didn’t vote to (raise taxes) won’t have any effect on next year’s budget, but come the budget for 2020-21, because we won’t have that increase from this year, there’s going to be more of a deficit we’ll have to make up when it comes time to do the budget,” she said.

The proposed tax hike was an increase of 3.3%, the maximum allowed the district under the state Act 1 index and equating to an annual tax increase of approximately $47 for a property assessed at $100,000.

The board’s successful vote Thursday broke an impasse that began at a special meeting Monday when the eight board members who were present deadlocked on two separates votes, one to increase the millage rate to 14.7183 and another to maintain the current millage rate. The board scheduled Thursday’s meeting to re-vote on the matter.

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