Northern Lehigh School District residents will in fact see a 2.3-percent increase in their property tax rates next year.
On a 7-0 vote, the school board agreed on Monday to approve the 2013-14 general fund budget in the amount of $28,509,357. Directors Natalie Green and Robin Distler were absent.
The spending plan represents a $402,575 increase over the 2012-13 spending plan, and calls for a 20.17 millage rate in Lehigh County, and a 57.31 millage rate in Northampton County.
That means residents who live in Lehigh County will pay $2.01 for every $100 of assessed value, and those who live in Northampton County will pay $5.73 for every $100 of assessed value, said Sherri Molitoris, co-director of business affairs/human resources.
Molitoris said that's due to the fact that Lehigh County is now assessed at 100 percent, while Northampton County is assessed at 50 percent.
Faced with a $347,000 shortfall in the budget, Molitoris said the district will look to take $347,000 from out of its fund balance that had been set aside for the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) increase to help balance the budget.
In a related budgetary matter, the board approved the lease of desktop computers for the high school, and desktop and laptop computers for the administrative staff from California First Leasing Corporation, Irvine, CA, for $50,000 per year, with a lease term of 36 months and a $1 buyout option at the end of the lease agreement.
In addition, the board approved to commit and/or assign portions of the June 30, 2013 fund balance for the PSERS increase; health insurance premiums; technology; replacement equipment; and long range maintenance (actual amounts to be determined after completion of the 2012-13 end of year audit).
Also, the board approved the 2013 Homestead and Farmstead Exclusion Resolution.
In January, the board agreed to adopt a resolution to not exceed the Act 1 Tax Index for the 2013-14 budget.
Due to Lehigh County's reassessment, the district is locked in at 1.7 percent, with an adjusted rate of 2.3 percent. Therefore, the most the board could have raised taxes by would have been 1.48 mills.
Last year, the board adopted the 2012-13 spending plan with a zero-mill increase after it agreed to utilize $715,000 from the fund balance to stabilize the budget.
As part of that budget, 46 aides in the district saw a one-hour per day reduction in their hours this school year, as their hours have been reduced from 5 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours per day, which will save the district $350,000.
That budget left the property tax rate unchanged at 64.37 mills in Lehigh and Northampton counties, which meant a person with a home valued at $100,000, and assessed at $50,000, again paid $3,219 in property taxes to the district.