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Lehighton keeps property taxes level

Property taxes will remain level in Lehighton Area School District after its board of directors unanimously approved the 2022-23 budget this week.

The budget calls for expenditures of $45.45 million and revenues of $44.94 million with the difference being made up from reserves. According to the budget, Lehighton’s estimated ending fund balance after 2022-23 will be $3.93 million, or 8.66% of expenditures.

The board, in May, debated using the fund balance against a small tax increase. Increasing taxes by 1 mill would have cost an additional $4.66 per month for a taxpayer with an average property assessment. According to Business Administrator Ed Rarick, 7,174 properties in Lehighton fall below the average assessed value, while 2,378 are above it.

Board President Joy Beers, at a workshop in May, said she envisioned the district’s goal this budget season as one of keeping the status quo while Lehighton undergoes an administration transition.

“We have an interim superintendent and we’re trying to keep the boat sailing until we hire a new one, so this budget really keeps a lot of things the same,” Beers said at the time. “The new superintendent will be tasked with creating a vision and analyzing the status quo so we can take a look at things like our curriculum and grants and what types of things we can do going forward.”

LASD property taxes were increased 4.2% in 2021-22 and 3.6% in 2020-21.

Lehighton on Monday also approved the Homestead Farmstead Resolution relieving 4,407 approved applications with a tax reduction of $342.19.

One-time purchases through American Rescue Plan funds, totaling $525,000, include iPads, information technology switches and districtwide access points.

The 2022-23 budget currently includes the addition of an elementary center music teacher, middle school reading specialist, high school math teacher and a 10-month middle school secretary. The district staffed all of those positions at one time, but cut back through attrition over the years.