A $15,000 state grant will help protect the water quality of a water trail for generations to come, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced this week.
Petrarca said the grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was awarded to the Allegheny Ridge Corporation to help prepare and print updated maps and to create a management plan for the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail, which runs through Armstrong, Indiana and Westmoreland counties.
“Taking these proactive steps to protect our waterways is vital to our area’s overall quality of life,” Petrarca said in a news release.
The DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation rivers conservation grants focus on conserving and protecting state waterways and outdoor recreational opportunities, including installing riparian buffers to improve the health and diversity of local ecosystems and to also develop long-term water quality management programs.
More information can be found at https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Communities/Grant.
The Derry Area School Board at its regular meeting Thursday approved a resolution to operate within the Act 1 index during the 2020-21 budget cycle.
The cost-of-living index caps any property tax increase at 3.6%, or 3.23 mills, Derry Area administrative assistant for business affairs Joe Koluder said. That means the school district, if necessary, is only able to increase taxes to generate a maximum of roughly $436,000 in additional local tax revenue for the upcoming budget.
The value of 1 mill is about $135,000, Koluder noted.
“We’re not asking for exceptions,” Koluder said after Thursday’s meeting. “Now that the board has made this decision, we’ll be working on the budget, the staffing and so forth over the winter, and we’ll do a budget presentation in April to the board.”
After the budget presentation in the spring, Koluder said the board will look to pass a tentative budget in May. The school district must adopt a final budget by June 30.
Koluder said the base index put out by the state is about 2.6%, with Derry Area’s adjusted to 3.6% because it is on the poorer end of area school districts.
The Act 1 index is a state formula regulating real estate tax increases.
“As of right now, our projections are we’re going to stay within the index,” he said. “It’s an estimate at this time and we’ll have to make budget changes accordingly.”
In January, school board members approved a resolution to operate within the index during the 2019-20 budget cycle.
The board in June approved a final 2019-20 budget with a 2-mill increase in property taxes, which increased the tax rate to 89.8 mills. The previous year, school directors approved a final budget with a 5-mill tax increase, the largest single-year hike for the district in years. Before that, it moved forward with a 2.8-mill increase in 2017-18 and a 2.5-mill bump in 2016-17, respectively.
The current school year’s tentative spending plan shows $37.69 million in expenditures, up from $36.53 million in 2018-19. Listed expenditures included $22.1 million for salaries and benefits, $5.1 million for special education, $2.3 million for transportation, $1 million for plant operations and $2.8 million for debt service, along with the fund balance.
Also discussed at Thursday’s meeting:
In other business, the school board approved: