SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. -

Property owners in Parkland School District face a maximum 2.1 percent tax increase to pay for the 2014-15 school year, but district officials are optimistic the amount of that increase will be reduced before the final budget is adopted in late June.

The proposed $152-million budget received unanimous approval from Parkland School Board Tuesday night.

The final budget will be adopted by the board on June 24.

“We know the final budget presented in June will have an even lower tax increase than the budget package presented for board consideration tonight,” predicted district Superintendent Richard Sniscak during the meeting.

That was echoed by John Vignone, Parkland’s business administration director, who told the board: “Our plan is to present a budget to the board in June with less of an increase than the proposed 2.1.”

Said Sniscak: “If our budget projections continue to trend in a positive manner, we are anticipating a lower tax impact in June of 2014 to balance our final budget than the 1.92 percent tax increase passed by our board in June of 2013.”

No one from the public attended the school board meeting to ask questions about the budget.

It will be available for public review beginning Wednesday in the school district office at 1210 Springhouse Road in South Whitehall Township, said Vignone.

Information about the proposed budget also is on the school district’s web site.

At a time when some local districts are faced with cutting many teachers, Parkland plans to add nine teaching positions in 2014-15.

Sniscak explained those positions are being “restored – we’re not adding new – from the attritional savings from all the retirements that we had. I believe we had in excess of 23 retirements in the district this year, so that attritional savings allowed us to restore staff.”

Tax impact

If the tax increase should remain unchanged at 2.1 percent, the owner of a home with an assessed value of $100,000 will see an increase of $29, said Vignone.

The tax will increase $58 on a home with an assessed value of $200,000. And the owner of a $300,000 home will pay $87 more.

The business director said the median assessed home value in Parkland is a little over $222,000. He said an owner of a home worth that much would pay $82 more when the 2014-15 school tax bills go out if the 2.1 percent increase does not change.

Vignone stressed Parkland residents whose properties are enrolled in the homestead/farmstead program will see an estimated $104 in property tax relief, meaning their school tax bills will be lowered by that amount.

No increase above 2.1 percent

Vignone said the administration and school board decided months ago that any tax increase would be limited to the state’s Act 1 index of
2.1 percent.

“This is the first time in three years that our district has not sought approval to go beyond the Act 1 index assigned to Parkland,”
said the superintendent.

Doing so, Sniscak explained, would involve requesting exceptions that would allow the district to increase taxes more than 2.1 percent.

State help needed

Vignone said the number one challenge faced by the budget is the uncertainty of funding from the state.

Sniscak said Parkland is due to receive a $602,000 Ready to Learn grant that is proposed for the district in Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget.

That budget has to be approved by the state Legislature, which is supposed to pass an annual state budget by June 30.

“We need that money to come through,” said Vignone. “If that goes away, we have a hole in the budget. We’ve got to stress to our legislators that money has to come through.”