The Pleasant Valley School District board of directors approved the 2013-2014 preliminary budget with a tax increase.

Board President Tom Murphy emphasized that it is not a final budget, only a preliminary.

Appropriations for the preliminary budget is $94,894,104. That is up $1,673,391 from the 2012-2013 approved budget of $93,220,713.

The preliminary budget proposes a real estate tax millage of 154.1420 mills, representing a 8.1260 mill increase, or 5.57 percent, from the 2012-2013 tax rate of 146.0160 mills. This means that a home with an average assessed value of $20,770, would have a tax bill of $3,202, which is an increase of $169 from 2012-2013.

According to a statement read by PVSD's board of director's president, Tom Murphy, this millage increase represents the Act 1 Index of 2.4 percent plus exceptions for special education and retirement. Beginning with a preliminary budget that utilizes the index plus exceptions allows the school district the maximum flexibility as it moves forward through the budget process. As per Act 1, the millage may be reduced from this preliminary budget rate but cannot be increased.

The statement also says, "This is a similar starting point to what the board has done in previous years. For 2012-2013, the preliminary budget reflected a tax increase using the index plus exceptions, but the board did not raise taxes. Thus, the adoption of a preliminary budget that reflects such a proposed increase should not be considered an indicator that a final budget would be passed that contains such an increase. In fact, as the budget process moves along, all line items will be reviewed and studied for any possible reductions, which will impact the final budget."

That final budget will be adopted no later than June 30, 2013.

The statement adds that revenues other than real estate taxes "remain flat due to current economic conditions" and that the budget includes the use of fund balance, or reserves in the amount of $3.6 million. The current 2012-2013 budget is using $4.6 million of fund balance.

The board will not know what it will receive in state funding until Gov. Corbett releases his proposed state budget in February.

Federal funding and sequestration are unknowns at this time and not expected to be resolved until March. Any further reductions in state and/or federal funding would increase Pleasant Valley School District's use of fund balance.

"It is important to note that school district expenses continue to increase despite declining student enrollment and reductions in the number of staff. Employer contributions to retirement, medical insurance costs, energy costs and contractual obligations, are the main reasons for an increase in expenditures. Medical insurance costs are estimates. Final rates will not be established until May or June of 2013."

The 2013-2014 preliminary budget is available for public inspection at the district office located at 2233 Route 115, Suite 100, Brodheadsville or you can access it at the district's website at www.pvbears.org [1].