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PASD taxes stay the same

Published June 19. 2013 05:03PM

Residents who live in the Palmerton Area School District will see no increase in their property tax rates next year.

By a 7-2 margin, the school board agreed on Tuesday to adopt the 2013-14 budget with a zero-mill increase. Directors Barry Scherer and Susan Debski were opposed.

The $28,174,999 spending plan will leave the millage rate at 51.44 mills, which means a person with a home valued at $100,000 and assessed at $50,000 will again pay $2,572 in property taxes to the district.

In a related matter, the board approved the 2013-14 Homestead/Farmstead taxable assessment exclusion of $3,764, and the Homestead/Farmstead tax exclusion of $194.

Last month, the board approved the proposed 2013-14 budget with no millage increase.

That came after the board in February approved the 2013-14 preliminary general fund budget in the amount of $28,611,621, which would have raised the millage rate 1.18 mills, from 51.44 to 52.62 mills.

Since then, the board has made several budget adjustments that added up to $436,622 worth of reductions.

In addition, it created a Life Skills Class and ESY summer program to decrease outsourcing to other educational facilities; utilized attritional savings to replace and hire additional staffing; replaced four teachers with same subject teachers; hired a full-time technology teacher in place of a gym teacher at the junior high school; hired a full-time math teacher in place of a consumer science teacher at the high school; one new full-time reading specialist at Towamensing Elementary; a .5 science teacher at the high school; a .5 floating custodial position; and one full-time life skills teacher at Towamensing.

Business manager Diane Serfass stated in January that her recommendation was to raise taxes to the full index, and to apply for any exceptions it qualifies for. The only exception the district qualified for was the retirement exception, she said.

Serfass said the 2013-14 base index is 1.7 percent, but the district's has been adjusted to 2.3 percent based on its wealth. As a result, the most millage could have increased without an approved exception or approved referendum was 1.18 mills, she said.

Last June, the board adopted the 2012-13 budget, which called for a 4.68-percent, or 2.30-mill increase, in the property tax rate.

The $27,267,701 budget raised the millage rate from 49.14 to 51.44 mills, which means a person with a home valued at $100,000, and assessed at $50,000, had to pay $2,572, or $115 more, in property taxes to the district.

As part of that approval, the board authorized $179,700 of the 2012-13 committed fund balance to be allocated to the payment of the district's 2013-14 PSERS obligation.

That spending plan also called for the use of $272,486 from the fund balance to pay for the 2011-12 positions that were restored.

Also as part of that budget, the board rejected the transfer of $44,945 from the Special Athletic Account to general fund to reimburse the expense of the wrestling, cross country, golf and tennis programs for the 2011-12 fiscal year as per the board resolution dated June 7, 2011.

Exceptions the board used as part of that budget pertained to various items that dealt with construction and debt service; special education costs; the PSERS increase; and a total millage increase of 1.17 mills.

In addition, the board rejected a motion to utilize the following formula to allocate the donation of $46,351 from the Save Our Sports group before June 30, 2012; 2011-2012 total athletic expenditures less 2011-2012 gate receipts, less 2011-2012 budgeted local revenue equals the amount of the donation to be utilized to fund the total 2011-2012 athletic program. Any remaining donated funds shall be used in the same manner in subsequent years.

Additionally, the board authorized the transfer of $32,471 from the Special Athletic Account to General Fund to fund a portion of the 2011-2012 athletic program. The remaining SOS allocation was to have been placed in a separate account.

In other business, the board:

• Approved, per the Real Estate Tax Universal Installment Payment Plan Resolution, the installment dates for the collection of the 2013 Real Estate Taxes.

• Approved all budget transfers for fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, in order to comply with audit requirements. The board will be provided with an itemized listing of all required budget transfers upon completion of the 2013 Real Estate Taxes.

• Authorized the superintendent and business manager to make and release payments for the remaining June accounts payable, and necessary July accounts payable.

• Approved the following bonding amounts for the 2013-14 fiscal year: Board president, $250,000; board vice president, $250,000; board secretary, $250,000; superintendent, $25,000; business manager, $25,000; employee blanket bond, $35,000; board treasurer, $20,000; tax collectors (bond amount is set by Carbon County), Bowmanstown Borough, $292,279; Lower Towamensing Township, $1,171,214; Palmerton Borough, $1,814,312; and Towamensing Township, $2,086,146.

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