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Lehigh Valley

Unexpected shortfalls may cause Whitehall SD to revisit new budget

WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - The Whitehall-Coplay School District Board of Directors may have to revisit its near $60 million 2014-2015 general fund budget it passed three weeks ago due to unexpected revenue shortfalls in a state block grant and business property taxes under appeal.

According to Superintendent John Corby, the district expected a $400,000 "ready to learn" educational grant formerly know as an "accountability block grant" and was recently informed by the governor's office it would only be allotted $236,000 due to educational cutbacks.

With regard to the $164,000 shortfall, Corby said, " The budget will have to be relooked at and individual line items will have to be reduced."

In addition, Corby said the district also may lose another $200,000 in property tax revenue due to four Whitehall businesses who are appealing their 2014-2015 property tax bills to the township.

He noted one of the businesses is a fairly large and well known entity that pays $100,000 in real estate taxes the district expected to receive to pay for operating costs.

The other three tax appeals from local merchants total just over another $100,000, confirmed district Business Manager Michael Malay.

District officials would not release the names of the four businesses appealing their taxes.

"My administrative team and I are going to make some difficult decisions in the upcoming months, " Corby stated.

"We're going to have to look at our rainy day savings, " he commented referring to the district's fund balance or savings account.

School Board Vice President Robert Kolb questioned, " How do we make up for a shortfall in the state's contribution to our school district?" He continued, referring to the businesses' tax appeals, "the real estate tax appeals are a big hit, and it's a lot to come all at once."

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