Lehigh Valley

ASD includes tax hike in 2017-18 budget

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Allentown School District approved a $305.9 million final 2017-18 budget Thursday night. The budget calls for a 3.8 percent increase in property tax. The vote was unanimous.

In addition to the tax increase, the district also utilized nearly $16.8 million in undesignated fund balance to balance the budget, leaving the district with  more than $7.6 million left in the fund.

"This is a responsible budget," said Gary Cooper, the district's interim superintendent. "...This stops a downward slide."

The budget also assumes the district's basic education subsidy will be increased by about 2.7 percent and a roughly $5.5 million state pension contribution increase to just under $36.3 million. In addition, the budget also has factored in an increase of $883,000 to fund charter school payments, bringing the total costs to $42.5 million.

"We lowered the tremendous tax increase," said Director Robert Smith of the original administration proposal, which would have placed a greater burden on property owners.

The district will spend $110.4 million for salaries and wages during the 2017-18 fiscal year, with professional and instructional staff pulling in about $85 million. The budget also allocates more than $81.8 million in employee benefits, with the previously noted $36.3 in state pension contributions topping the list, with $33.8 million designated for group insurance costs.

Of the district's roughly $289,2 million in revenues, a total of $172 million comes from the state, with just over $100 million from local sources. Of that $100 million in local revenue, real estate taxes comprise $79 million of the amount. In addition, the budget includes a $15 per capita tax, a 1.33 percent earned income tax garnering about $8 million in revenue, and a 1 percent realty transfer tax in which the district will pocket $1.25 million. A $52 local service tax would also be provided for.

The district shares disproportionately the EIT tax with the city, which receives .83 percent of it, with ASD acquiring .50 percent. The realty tax is split equally with the city, and the district gains $5 from the $52 local service tax.

In other news, directors approved the appointment of Cynthia Craig-Booher as the district's business manager. Her term begins July 1 and runs through June 30, 2022. She will be paid $127,000 per year.


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