Property taxes are set to rise in the Uniontown Area School District.

The school board Monday adopted a $46.9 million operating budget for the 2019-20 school year that carries a millage increase for the second consecutive year.

The district tax rate was set at 16.08 mills, up from 15.6 mills.

For property owners, this means an annual tax increase of $48 for a property assessed at $100,000.

The tax increase is the second in two years for Uniontown following eight consecutive years of no change in the millage rate. The district raised the millage by 1.17 mills last year.

The budget adoption and tax resolution each passed Monday on a 7-1 board vote.

Directors Susan Clay, Bill Collier, Terry Dawson, Bill Gerke, Dorothy Grahek, Ken Meadows and Don Rugola voted in favor of each measure. Bill Rittenhouse cast opposing votes for both items. Director Pam Neill was not in attendance.

Superintendent Dr. Charles Machesky said the 0.48-mill increase in the tax rate will generate for the district an estimated $410,000 in new revenue, which, coupled with the refinancing of district bonds resulting in lowered debt service payments, will balance a budget that when being prepared last month carried a deficit in excess of $3.1 million.

The board Monday authorized the refinancing of a portion of the district’s 2014, 2015 and 2016 series A bonds in a maximum amount of $3.3 million. The measure passed on a 7-1 vote, with Rittenhouse opposing.

Machesky said the refinancing takes advantage of lower interest rates to reduce debt service payments in the 2019-20 budget by $2.45 million.

The district performed more than $60 million in capital projects during a multi-year period in the 2010s while maintaining a static tax rate, said Machesky. With the district facing rising operating costs annually, taxpayers could see their taxes increasing with regularity in the coming years, he said.

“This problem is not going to go away,” said Machesky. “Now is the time to say, hey, this is how it’s going to be, going forward.”

The new budget is a marginal increase (0.5%) over the district’s $46.7 million 2018-19 budget.

Machesky said the budget was prepared with no reductions in staffing, academic programs or building facilities.

The majority of 11 teacher positions will be eliminated through attrition due to retirement, Machesky said. One of those positions -- a biology teacher -- will be filled; up to two other positions could be replaced as well, he said.

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