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Tentative school budget has 2.8 percent hike

Published February 19. 2014 05:00PM

While far from polished, Palmerton Area School District's 2014-15 spending plan calls for a 2.8 percent increase in property taxes.

The school board, on an 8-0 vote, approved next year's proposed $28,698,457 budget, which would result in a 1.44-mill increase. Director Charles Gildner was absent.

Should the board grant final adoption to the budget under those terms, the property tax rate would be raised from 51.44 to 52.88 mills.

That would mean a person whose home is valued at $100,000, and assessed at $50,000, would pay $2,644, or $72 more in property taxes to the district next year.

The board intends to seek approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, or the Carbon County Court, for all referendum exceptions for which the district qualifies.

Also, the district will work to gather more information to refine planned expenditures for the 2014-15 fiscal year, in order to minimize the impact to the taxpayers.

Projected increases include $158,024 in capital requests; a 6 percent increase in medical insurance; a 4.47 percent increase in Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS); an 11 percent increase in school liability insurance; $112,000 for math, computer applications, and American Cultures textbooks; and a $210,000 rollover for elementary series books, which would come from the fund balance.

The biggest expenses appears to be employee wages (37.67 percent), and employee benefits (22.37 percent).

Final budget adoption must occur by June 30.

Last June, the board adopted the 2013-14 budget with a zero-mill increase, which left the millage rate at 51.44 mills.

That meant a person with a home valued at $100,000 and assessed at $50,000 again paid $2,572 in property taxes to the district.

Also on Tuesday, business manager Diane Serfass announced that the district will receive funding from the school-based ACCESS program for the 2012-13 school year.

Serfass said the district will receive $2,036 for medical claims, as well as $9,600 for administrative claims. Those amounts are down by about $20,600 from the $32,305 amount the district previously averaged, she said.

The Public Consulting Group is the statewide vendor for the Pennsylvania Special Education School Based ACCESS Program that administers the ACCESS program for the state.

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