A hefty tax increase could be in the cards for residents who live in the Palmerton Area School District.

That's if the school board approves the 2010-11 preliminary budget, which in its present form, calls for a 3.9 percent, or 1.64 mill increase.

Next year's budget was among the topics discussed by the board's Curriculum, Athletics, Personnel and Policy Committee on Tuesday.

As of now, total expenditures are at $26,589,136, while total revenues are at $25,499,118, which represents a $76,379 difference in the fund balance.

Such a scenario would increase 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.

Committee member Susan Debski questioned why there was such a high increase in the maintenance department, as well as the senior high school, which includes athletics.

As a result, the committee agreed the board should hold a special meeting to review the spending plan once a preliminary budget is approved to see whether it can whittle it down at all.

Business manager Lisa Vignone said the preliminary budget will be listed on the agenda at the board's May 11 meeting. Final adoption is expected at the board's June 15 meeting.

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

Meanwhile, 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.

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.