Lehigh Valley

Easton school board approves salary freeze, tax hike

EASTON, Pa. - Easton school officials say a new agreement with teachers has left the district in its best financial shape in recent memory.

The school board voted 8-1 Tuesday night  to approve an agreement with teachers, which includes a two-year salary freeze and leaves the district with a 2015-2016 deficit of $700,000. 

That number is significantly lower than the nearly $5 million deficit the district was facing when it began its budget process.

And while the district will lose 29 positions next year, that will happen through attrition, not layoffs.

Board members said it could be a sign the district is moving forward after two decades of constant tax hikes, and three years of teacher layoffs.

Up until two weeks ago, the district had been facing the possibility of 72 job cuts.

"We just looked to cut and move on, cut and move on," said board member William Rider, describing past budgets. 

This doesn't mean there isn't a tax increase in the future for Easton Area residents.

The board also voted 7-2 Tuesday to adopt this year's budget, which raises taxes by four percent. That comes out to $130 a year extra for the owner of a property with an assessed value of $60,000.

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