Panther Valley budget has 8% increase
Panther Valley School District, which already has the highest tax rates in Carbon County, could be increasing taxes even more this year.
The school board gave approval by a 6-3 vote to its tentative budget Thursday night with an 8 percent tax increase.
Under the proposed budget, taxes will rise by 4.49 mills for Carbon County residents and 1.67 mills for Coaldale residents. Coaldale is in Schuylkill County where the tax assessment is different from Carbon County.
Kenneth Marx Jr., business manager, said the proposed increase would amount to an average of about $100 per year for households in Summit Hill, Nesquehoning, and Lansford, and about $25 annually for Coaldale residents.
Panther Valley's present tax rate is 55.69 mills. Other millage rates in Carbon County for 2013 are 51.444 mills in Palmerton, 47.32 mills in Lehighton, 45.52 mills in Jim Thorpe, and 40.46 mills in Weatherly.
The tentative budget passed by a 6-3 vote.
In favor were board President Jeff Markovich, Vice President John Williams, secretary Michelle Markovich, Bill Hunsicker, Dan Heaney, and Irene Genther. Opposed are treasurer Anthony DeMarco, Roy Angst, and Brian Dolena.
Genther said although she voted yes, she feels the tax increase will not be so high.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's not going to happen," she said.
She added, "We have to look at ourselves as the stewards of the money the people are paying."
She said a line-by-line examination will continue of the budget to see where additional cuts can occur.
A lot of people are not paying their taxes, Genther said.
"I'm obviously old-fashioned," Angst said, adding that a state report several years ago indicated the district has too many janitors and paying too much money. "We have more janitors now," he said.
In addition, he said years ago only two coaches wire hired and "I just voted yes tonight on hiring 50 coaches."
DeMarco corrected him, stating 10 coaches were hired. He referred to Angst's arbitrary number, saying, "not 50 as his magic Disney number." An article about the hiring of coaches appears on the sports pages.
DeMarco said he opposes the proposed budget because of the uncertainty of state funding.
The school district had written a letter to state officials regarding state funding. State Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) responded and said he will forward the concerns to the House Appropriations Committee, board members said.
State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) did not respond, the board said.
The board voted 8-1 to be a plaintiff in a statewide lawsuit being planned by parents and school districts to challenge the commonwealth's underfunding of school districts in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Angst was opposed.
The Educational Law Center, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, and a national law firm will serve as legal counsel and their services are free to clients with respect to the lawsuit.