Panther valley school directors on Thursday approved a preliminary $23,452,501 budget that calls for a 2-mill property tax increase in Carbon County and 5 mills in Coaldale.

But officials cautioned that is likely to change. Business manager Kenneth R. Marx Jr. said the early-stage budget was approved because Jan. 12 was the deadline mandated by the state to approve a preliminary spending plan, but the district has another six months to craft a final budget, which must be in place by June 28.

In December, Marx said increased pension costs fueled the budget hike.

School director R. Mickey Angst voted against the preliminary budget, saying there were too many unknown variables that could affect its outcome. New board member Richard Zabroski did not vote on the spending plan because he was just seated prior to the meeting, and needed to come up to speed.

Now, 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, which is 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.

In other matters Thursday, the board:

Ÿ Accepted school director Anthony DeMarco's resignation as board representative to the Carbon Career and Technical Institute Joint Operating Committee. DeMarco said he resigned because he's active in many community and family activities and was stretched too thin.

Ÿ Approved an extension of an employee's administrative leave, with pay, until Feb. 9.

The board's December agenda included a motion to ratify and approve placing the employee on a one-month paid administrative leave, retroactively from Nov. 21 to Dec. 21. No details were available as to who the employee is and why he or she was disciplined.

Ÿ Tabled action of the CCTI budget and rejected the Lehigh Carbon Community College budget.