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NL budget holds the line on taxes; district aides have reduced hours

Published June 12. 2012 05:01PM

For the second consecutive year, residents in the Northern Lehigh School District will see no increase in their property tax rates.

The school board unanimously agreed on Monday to grant final budget adoption to the 2012-13 spending plan, which again calls for a zero-mill increase.

Sherri Molitoris, co-director of business affairs/human resources, said the district will utilize $715,000 from the fund balance to stabilize the budget.

Though she was in support of the budget, director Natalie Green voiced her concern that aides will see a reduction in their hours.

After the meeting, Molitoris told the TIMES NEWS there are 46 aides in the district who will each see a one-hour reduction in their hours this coming school year.

The hours have been reduced from 5 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours per day, said Molitoris, who added the reduction will save the district $350,000.

The $28,106,782 budget will leave the property tax rate unchanged at 64.37 mills in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

That means a person with a home valued at $100,000, and assessed at $50,000, will again pay $3,219 in property taxes to the district next year.

In a related matter, the board approved the 2012 Homestead and Farmstead Exclusion Resolution.

All property owners who receive the full reduction to their tax bill will see a reduction of $249.

Last June, the board adopted the 2011-12 budget, which also called for a zero-mill increase.

The district was able to offset a potential $1.5 million shortfall in that budget with the creation of an early retirement incentive plan that saw 14 teachers agree to be included in the plan.

The board agreed to adopt the plan for all eligible professional employees, on a voluntary basis, for the 2010-11 school year.

The program asked those high-end teachers who account for about $111,000 per position to retire and not be replaced, which resulted in a savings of over $1 million in the district's fund balance and long-range plan.

The offer was a one-time only program that enabled teachers in the district to submit a letter in writing that said they would retire from the district.

In other budgetary matters, the board:

• Approved the lease of laptops, laptop carts, desktop computers and interactive whiteboards for the middle school and high school from California First Leasing Corporation, 18201 Von Karman Ave., Suite 800, Irvine, CA 92612, for $50,000 per year, with a lease term of 36 months and a $1 buyout option at the end of the lease agreement.

• Approved to commit and/or assign portions of the June 30, 2012 fund balance for PSERS increase; health insurance premiums; technology; replacement equipment; and long range maintenance, with the actual amounts to be determined after completion of the 2011-12 audit.

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