Residents who live in the Palmerton Area School District could see a 3.9 percent swell in their property tax rates next year.

The school board on an 8-1 vote Tuesday agreed to grant tentative adoption of the 2010-11 budget, which calls for a 1.64 mill increase. Director Carol Dwyer was opposed.

When asked why she voted against the $26,589,136 preliminary budget, Dwyer said she didn't believe taxpayers should have to pay more in such a harsh economic climate.

"I saw increases in areas we shouldn't have increases," Dwyer said. "In an ecomony like this, we should be having a decrease, not an increase."

In a related matter, the board announced that it will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. May 24 to review the budget, as well as the hotly debated dress code.

If approved, the spending plan would raise the millage rate from 42 to 43.64 mills. The maximum the board can raise the property tax rate under the Act 1 index is by 1.64 mills.

That would mean a person with a home valued at $100,000, and assessed at $50,000, would pay $2,182 in property taxes to the district next year, $82 more than this year's $2,100 rate.

Salaries and benefits are set to increase by $229,141, from $15,205,016 in 2009-10 to $15,434,157 in 2010-11.

However, the amount of grants the district will receive will decrease by $28,210, from $1,187,527 in 2009-10 to $1,159,317in 2010-11.

Previously, the committee met with each of its building principals, as well as its technology, special education, human resources, and curriculum and instruction directors.

Final adoption of the budget is expected at the board's June 15 meeting.

Last year, the district adopted a budget for the 2009-10 school year that called for a 2.44 percent, or 1 mill, increase.

The $25,488,593 spending plan raised the millage rate from 41 to 42 mills. That meant a person who owned a $100,000 home, which was assessed at $50,000, paid $2,100, or $50 more, to the district in property taxes.

Prior to that, the last time the district raised property taxes was in the 2007-08 school year, when it passed a budget with a 2.5 percent increase.

As for the dress code, the district may attempt to tighten up its current policy, as expressed by a majority of the school board's Curriculum, Athletics, Personnel and Policy Committee last week.

Board President Barry Scherer said the public will be afforded the opportunity to comment on the dress code at the special meeting.

Also on Tuesday, resident George Ashman informed the board of a blood drive that was held at the high school earlier in the day.

Ashman said the drive, sponsored by the Miller-Keystone Blood Center, had 14 students participate, at which time 24 units of blood were collected.

Superintendent Carol Boyce then praised Ashman for his work in helping to organize blood drives throughout the community.

"I'd like to thank Mr. Ashman for his service with that," Boyce said. "I think all of us appreciate the great service he provides."

Ashman then received a round of applause from the audience, as well as the board.