Although the Panther Valley School Board on Tuesday approved a proposed $23,452,501 budget for next year that calls for a 5-mill property tax increase in Coaldale and a 2-mill jump in Carbon County, officials urged people not to panic because the spending plan has yet to reflect money expected from state gambling revenue.
The school board voted 6-2, with Mickey Angst and Irene Genther opposing, and Bill Hunsicker, Koreen Nalesnik, David Hiles, Anthony DeMarco, Michelle Markovich and president Jeff Markovich in favor.
Both Hiles and Demarco cautioned taxpayers to stay calm.
"Don't get worked up about a tax increase," Hiles said. He and DeMarco said the district has yet to learn how much money it stands to get from the state basic education subsidy. Also, the district has a healthy fund balance account from which it could draw to close any gap between revenues and expenses.
The school board has months to craft the 2012-2013 spending plan, which it expects to adopt in May or June. A final budget must be adopted by June 28.
Business Manager Kenneth Marx Jr. said the "only large increase in expenses is due to the increase in pension costs. The increase was approximately 40 percent of the prior year's costs of pension, which is about a $320,000.
Currently, the property tax rate is 55.69 mills in the Carbon County side of the district, which encompasses Lansford, Summit Hill and Nesquehoning. The rate in Coaldale, on the Schuylkill County side, is 49.11 mills.
The figures are different due to real estate assessment formulae in each county. This year, the owner of a property assessed at $50,000 on the Carbon County side paid $2,784 in property tax. On the Schuylkill side, the bill came to $2,515.
Each mill generates $123,574 in Carbon and $18,514 in Schuylkill, Marx said. He said the figure is based on an 88 percent collection rate.