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2.3 percent property tax hike expected in Northern Lehigh

Published May 14. 2013 05:02PM

It appears as though residents who live in the Northern Lehigh School District could see a 2.3-percent increase in their property tax rates next year.

By a unanimous measure, the school board agreed on Monday to adopt the 2013-14 proposed general fund final budget with a 20.17 millage rate for Lehigh County, and a 57.31 millage rate for Northampton County.

Sherri Molitoris, co-director of business affairs/human resources, said expenditures are at $28,509,357, and revenues at $28,162,357, which leaves a $347,000 shortfall.

Molitoris said the district will look to take $347,000 from out of its fund balance that had been set aside for the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) increase to address the shortfall.

If approved, the $28,509,357 spending plan would represent a $402,575, or 1.4-percent, increase over last year's figures.

In January, the board agreed to adopt a resolution to not exceed the Act 1 Tax Index for the 2013-14 budget.

Due to Lehigh County's reassessment, the district is locked in at 1.7 percent, with an adjusted rate of 2.3 percent. Therefore, the most it can raise taxes by is 1.48 mills.

Director Mathias Green said he recently had a conversation with the district's auditor, who mentioned the great job that both Molitoris, as well as Rhonda Frantz, co-director of business affairs/employee payroll and benefits, do in the business office.

Green then thanked both Molitoris and Frantz for their work, and added that the auditor also spoke highly of Superintendent Michael Michaels.

Michaels also referenced a conversation he had with the district's auditor, who told him of the quality job Molitoris and Frantz have done.

Molitoris said the board will look to grant final adoption of next year's budget when it meets at 7:30 p.m. June 10.

Last year, the board adopted the 2012-13 spending plan with a zero-mill increase after it agreed to utilize $715,000 from the fund balance to stabilize the budget.

As part of that budget, 46 aides in the district saw a one-hour reduction in their hours this school year, as their hours have been reduced from 5 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours per day, which will save the district $350,000.

That budget left the property tax rate unchanged at 64.37 mills in Lehigh and Northampton counties, which meant a person with a home valued at $100,000, and assessed at $50,000, again paid $3,219 in property taxes to the district.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the resolution Designation Millage Rates Following County-Wide Reassessment of Real Estate Values, effective July 1, 2013, as presented. Designating of the millage rates is a result of the current reassessment for Lehigh County.

• Authorized the secretary to publish a legal advertisement notifying every resident or inhabitant within the territorial limits of the school district of Northern Lehigh attaining 18 years of age, and every resident or inhabitant in the district to notify the proper Per Capita Tax Enumerator within 12 months of his or her becoming a resident or inhabitant, in accordance with the School Laws of Pennsylvania, Section 680, as amended June 16, 1972, Act 138.

The assessors to contact are as follows:

• Borough of Walnutport: Annette Lacko, secretary, Walnutport Borough Building, 417 Lincoln Avenue, Walnutport, PA 18088, (610)-767-1322.

• Washington Township: JoAnn Ahner, secretary, Washington Township Municipal Building, PO Box 27, Slatedale, Pa 18079, (610)-767-8108.

• Borough of Slatington: 125 South Walnut Street, Slatington, PA 18080, (610)-767-2131.

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