Her administration plans to present the latest version of the proposed
2014-15 budget to the school board on May 13. It must adopt a budget by June 30.
Inghrim presented several scenarios for tax increases in the next five years, but did not make any recommendations to his colleagues on the school board.
He explained the district's target is to maintain cash reserves totaling 12 percent of its total budget - nearly $6 million. (He said the state recommends 8 percent.) His presentation to the board shows the district currently has about 33 percent in reserves.
He indicated if the district did nothing but draw down its reserves, by 2017-18 it would have to raise taxes by about 31 percent to rebuild those reserves.
"This school board in the past has done things like that," said Inghrim. "We've had some 17 percent increases, some 10 percent increases. It's not unusual for school boards to suddenly hit you with a major increase in your taxes."
He said the state allows the district to raise taxes by no more than 2.1 percent a year. But doing that in each of the next four fiscal years would not give the district enough money to maintain that 12 percent reserve target.
To maintain that target, he said taxes would have to increase a total of 13 percent over the next four years, "which is not unreasonable in terms of a tax increase."
He added doing that would require a voter referendum or an exception from the state, as would having no increase in 2014-15, but increases in the following years.
Inghrim said 81 percent of the district's revenues come from local taxes.
He provided some statistics about residential taxpayers in the Saucon Valley district, including:
*Median household income is $39,700 in Hellertown, $60,000 in Lower Saucon Township.
*Average household income is $46,300 in Hellertown, $78,800 in Lower Saucon.
*Average real estate tax is $4,250 for Hellertown, $6,700 in Lower Saucon.
*Households with annual incomes of less than $30,000 a year total 34 percent in Hellertown, 19 percent in Lower Saucon.
Inghrim said in Hellertown, 84 percent of property taxes are paid by homeowners. In Lower Saucon, 90 percent of property taxes are paid by homeowners. "We have no commercial in the tax base."
He also said home ownership in Hellertown by people who are 65 and older declined by 23 percent between the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census.
"I can't help but believe that our property taxes is one of the factors that has created that phenomena. We have a very large percentage of our community that's very vulnerable from an income perspective. And we have a responsibility to those homeowners, as well as the students and the teachers."
His statistics show homeownership increased by 33 percent in Lower Saucon during those same 10 years.
Inghrim said 362 families in Saucon Valley School District have applied for the tax rebate program.
Board president Michael Karabin announced that senior citizens must file for district tax rebates by April 30. He said information about how to do that is on the district website.
Board delays Fellin's retirement by one month
Also during the meeting, the board voted 7-2 to delay Fellin's date of retirement until Aug. 8.
The idea behind that vote is to give the new superintendent that will be hired to replace her some time for the two of them to work together, to help with the transition.
Her last day of work originally was July 4.