YATESVILLE — The Pittston Area School District property owners will see their taxes go up an average of $36 under a $42.7 million 2013-14 budget the school board adopted Tuesday night.
The board also revisited a legal issue that has been a point of contention over the past two years.
Residents within the district will see their property tax rate increase from 13.4246 mills to 13.7333 mills. A mill is a dollar per every $1,000 in assessed property value. Al Melone, the financial consultant contracted by the district to help prepare the budget, estimated an average increase of $36 per household for the school year.
The district budget will feature expenditures of $42,767,965 with revenues of only $43,192,173.
The budget passed by a margin of 5-2. Board members Kent Bratlee, John Donahue, Anthony Guariglia, Bruce Knick and Charles Sciandra voted in favor while Robert Linskey and Marilyn Starna opposed.
Board members Richard Gorzkowski and Joseph Kelly were absent.
Speaking after the meeting, Sciandra stated his disapproval of the tax increase but explained that he ultimately voted in favor of the budget to allow district Superintendent Dr. Michael Garzella to begin more effective planning for the upcoming year.
Linskey, who opposed the budget, took issue with administrative personnel shifts.
In another matter, Guariglia announced his resignation as the district’s representative on the Luzerne Intermediate Unit board as part of a settlement dating back to his joining the board in 2011.
At that time, Guariglia was appointed to the board to replace Robert Linskey, who in turn claimed his removal was a politically motivated repercussion stemming from a personnel vote that he cast. Linskey stated that he consulted his attorney to formally request his return to the seat, and only chose to press his complaint against the five school board members who he believed retaliated against him, after no action was taken by the board.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the details of the settlement were announced, including the removal of Guariglia from the position and the awarding of $75,000 to Linskey, who would retain the right to rescind the agreement if he was not nominated back to refill the position.
Linskey was unanimously elected back to the LIU board while stating: “This is not about the money; it’s about getting my seat back.”
When Sciandra suggested Linskey should donate the $75,000 to the district, Linskey pointed out that it would be used to recoup his legal fees, which he estimated would be “about 50 percent” of the awarded sum.