Northern Lehigh considering tax increase
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Veteran Northern Lehigh School Board Director Mathias Green, left, accepts a Pennsylvania School Board Association School Board Service Award from board President Edward Hartman on Monday.
If Northern Lehigh School District chooses to raise the property tax rate next year, it will not be above the mandated state index.
On an 8-0 vote, the school board on Monday approved the Act 1 Tax Levy Resolution, which essentially states that the district may raise taxes up to the 2.8-percent index in the 2014-15 school year. Director Gary Fedorcha was absent.
Sherri Molitoris, co-director of business affairs/human resources, stated that while the adoption of the resolution means taxes cannot be raised above the index, it does not mean the board will not raise the property tax rate.
Molitoris said the board will likely approve the 2014-15 preliminary budget in May.
In June, the board approved the 2013-14 budget with a 2.3-percent increase in the property tax rate.
That budget, in the amount of $28,509,357, represented a $402,575 increase over the 2012-13 spending plan, and called for a 20.17 millage rate in Lehigh County, and a 57.31 millage rate in Northampton County.
Residents who live in Lehigh County had to pay $2.01 for every $100 of assessed value, and those who live in Northampton County, $5.73 for every $100 of assessed value. That was due to the fact that Lehigh County was assessed at 100 percent, while Northampton County was assessed at 50 percent.
The district took $347,000 from out of its fund balance that had been set aside for the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) increase to help balance that budget.
Also as part of that budget, the board approved the lease of desktop computers for the high school, and desktop and laptop computers for the administrative staff from California First Leasing Corporation, Irvine, Calif., for $50,000 per year, with a lease term of 36 months and a $1 buyout option at the end of the lease agreement.
In addition, the board approved to commit and/or assign portions of the June 30, 2013 fund balance for the PSERS increase; health insurance premiums; technology; replacement equipment; and long range maintenance (actual amounts to be determined after completion of the 2012-13 end of year audit).
Also on Monday, Assistant Superintendent Karen Nicholas noted that students are taking the Keystone Exams this week.
Due to the recent stretch of bad weather, Nicholas said schedules have had to be revised.
She said kudos were in store not only for the students, but high school Principal Robert Vlasaty, high school Assistant Principal Tanya Simms, and high school guidance counselor Sheila Lanshe.
In an unrelated matter, Nicholas announced that there will be two new programs of study offered to high school students. The new programs will be honors world history, as well as a television studio course, she said.
Superintendent Michael Michaels announced that January is school board recognition month, and took a moment to praise the directors for their tireless efforts.
He said the board is comprised of "nine very hard working individuals who give up a tremendous amount of their time" to work for the school district, as well as the taxpayers of the district.
"They do an incredible job," Michaels said. "They are wonderful to work with."
Michaels specifically recognized director Mathias Green for his 36 years of service to the board.
Board President Edward Hartman presented Green with a Pennsylvania School Board Association School Board Service Award for his service.
Green thanked the board for the gesture.