The proposed final budget for the 2010-2011 school year was shot down by the Panther Valley School board last night, by a vote of 6-3.
The proposed budget called for expenditures totaling $23,676,607 and included a 0.97 mill increase for Carbon County, including the boroughs of Lansford, Nesquehoning, and Summit Hill and a 0.33 mill decrease for Schuylkill County, which includes the borough of Coaldale.
The proposed tax hike would generate about $100,000, according to business manager Kenneth Marx, Jr. Marx also indicated that the proposed increase would also offset the anticipated loss to the District from the Kovatch reassessment.
Directors Bill Hunsicker, Anthony DeMarco, Mickey Angst, Irene Genther, Jeff Markovich, and Koreen Nalesnik voted against the passage of the proposed budget. Genther in particular spoke out about the proposed tax increase. "Here's a situation where we as compassionate members of the board should be looking at the people," she said. "We need to look at relief for now. Next year, maybe have more of an increase, but let it be one year that there is some compassion for the people." Genther was also against the proposed hike for some of the District while some of the District getting a decrease. "I think all the towns should have no tax increase," she said.
DeMarco questioned why the proposed budget allowed for $140,000 for the reserve fund when there is already a $2.1 million reserve. "We have budgeted those amounts and we've never used them. We have a pretty solid reserve. We don't have to add a tax for $140,000," he said. DeMarco also suggested that the board work on reducing expenditures to eliminate the 0.97 mills. "I don't want to face people in Redner's and tell them that we couldn't cut that," he said.
Director David Hiles, who voted for the proposed budget, indicated that the District must plan ahead. "In 2012, we're going to have to come up with $1 million for the pension fund, that we don't have," he said. Director Anthony Pondish, who also voted for the budget, agreed. "That's been deferred for years, and it's not going to be like that any more," he said. Hiles also indicated that the Board has time to work on the budget.
Later in the meeting, the Board tabled 33 agenda items relating to appointments for the 2010-2011 school year, including advisors for extracurricular activities. Although the salaries for the positions are part of the district's contract with the teachers, Hiles questioned whether all of the positions had to be filled. In particular, he questioned why there were two class advisors for each class and why the district would fill both an oratory coach position and a public speaking advisor position.