Palmerton Area School District has whittled down next year's budget to the tune of a 3.4-percent increase in the property tax rate.
Donna Les, interim business manager, presented to the board of directors at a committee workshop on Tuesday the adjusted 2012-13 budget, which equates to a .64-mill reduction that now calls for a 1.67-mill increase.
If the board were to approve a budget with a 1.67-mill increase, that would raise the millage rate from 49.14 to 50.81 mills. That would mean a person with a home valued at $100,000 and assessed at $50,000 would pay $2,540, or $83 more in property taxes to the district next year.
Les said that while the adjusted $27,265,782 spending plan does not take into account gaming revenue, it does reflect the governor's proposed budget, whereby the district would lose $20,168 in Social Security reimbursement; $1,194 in Basic Education Funding, and see a $178,389 increase in transportation costs.
The adjusted budget also calls for the use of $272,486 from the fund balance to pay for the 2011-12 positions that were restored, Les said.
She recommended that the board approve the advertisement of the proposed budget when it meets at 7 p.m. April 17.
Les said a public presentation would likely then be given sometime in May, with final budget adoption slated for June 19.
She also noted that the board has two months to attempt to reduce the budget even further.
Board President Barry Scherer said of the budget, "I think the news keeps getting better."
As of last month, next year's budget called for a 2.31-mill, or 4.68-percent, increase, which would have raised the millage rate from 49.14 to 51.45 mills. That would have meant a person with a home valued at $100,000 and assessed at $50,000 would have paid $2,573, or $116 more, in property taxes to the district next year.
Les previously said the district does qualify for two exceptions: special education and retirement contributions.
The final budget must be approved by June 30.
In December, the board approved a $27,817,801 preliminary budget, which at the time called for an 8.55-percent, or 4.2-mill increase.
However, Les noted at that time the millage rate had to be artificially inflated in order to provide a balanced budget, and that it didn't reflect the actual millage impact. The most the board could raise taxes is by 1.98 mills, she said.
That budget would have raised the millage rate from 49.14 to 53.34 mills, which would have meant a person with a home valued at $100,000 and assessed at $50,000, would have had to pay $2,667, or $210 more in property taxes to the district next year.
Also at that time, Superintendent Carol Boyce announced that, effective Dec. 31, a freeze would be put on spending on everything except for emergencies and ongoing expenditures.
This year, residents saw a 12.6-percent increase in their property tax rates after the board, on a 5-4 vote in June, adopted a $26,595,297 spending plan for the 2011-12 school year that called for a 5.506-mill increase.
The 2011-12 budget raised the millage rate from 43.64 to 49.14 mills, and meant a person with a home valued at $100,000 that was assessed at $50,000 had to pay $2,457, or $277 more in property taxes to the district.