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Pleasant Valley OKs 3.5% tax increase

In a 6-3 vote, the Pleasant Valley School Board approved a 3.5% tax increase for the 2022-2023 school year during a special meeting Thursday night. The other option was a 2.9% tax increase.

Both increases would raise additional money for the capital reserve fund for infrastructure and renovations to the school buildings, but the 0.6% difference alone is expected to raise $300,000.

In total, the 3.5% increase will bring in $52.3 million to the school district, of which $600,000 will go to the capital reserve fund.

Business Manager Michael Simonetta said in a presentation before the vote that the impact of the two tax scenarios on the property taxes actually comes down to a $1 per month difference.

For a property with a net assessment of $139,000, the tax impact from the 3.5% increase is an additional $114 per year, or broken down monthly, $9 per month. The impact from the 2.9% increase would have been $95 per year or an extra $8 per month.

When it came time to vote, school board President Sue Kresge said it was a tough decision.

“This is very difficult for me for some reason,” she said, and voted no on the 3.5% increase.

After the vote, she said, “Just for clarification, I would have voted for the 2.9%.”

Joining her in a no vote were school board directors Todd Kresge and Delbert Zacharias.

Todd Kresge said he voted no, because people are feeling the burden of extra expenses due to inflation.

“I’m looking at the senior citizens. They finally get an increase in their Social Security, and we’re asking for it,” he said.

School board Director Norman Burger, chairman of the finance committee, said he voted for the 3.5% also because of inflation, but not in the same way.

Burger is concerned about the effects of inflation on the expenses for the school district’s infrastructure and renovation projects. The high school building alone is 62 years old, he said.

“Inflation doesn’t appear to be abating. There’s uncertainty in state funding, uncertainty related to the Supreme Court case on fair funding, and we need to build our reserve,” Burger said.

Superintendent James Konrad said both options that were presented to the board were vetted and discussed, and both would generate additional revenue for capital projects.

“We know the quality of the buildings is also going to impact the learning environment for students,” Konrad said in an interview.

Konrad thinks the additional revenue over the next year will help the school district to stay at pace with the increase of costs of materials, labor and other related construction expenses.

“I think it’s a very wise investment knowing that these projects are continuing to cost additional money year after year,” he said. “I’m happy to see that we are on track to have the financial resources to invest the money back into the buildings which ultimately impacts kids. We want to make sure they have safe and up-to-date facilities.”

Simonetta said he was leaning toward the 3.5% increase, because his goal was for the school board to consider the situation regarding the facilities, and to build the reserve funding in order to prepare for future debt.

Simonetta said he plans to draft a capital projects presentation in the near future to prioritize the projects and assign projected dollar amounts.