Quakertown Community School District residents will see an increase in their taxes in the upcoming year, as board members of the school are discussing the options.
During Thursday evening's school board meeting, the board talked through some of the options for next year's budget. The next voting meeting is to be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 14, when an official vote for the preliminary budget will occur.
The board focused on a recommendation by the finance committee and administration for guidance on how much of a tax increase the district will see.
The finance committee recommended a 3.09 percent increase as a starting point for the budget, while the administrative recommendation was a 4.93 percent increase. Overall, the board felt that the finance committee's recommendation was a more likely option.
"We are dipping into our fund balance," said Lisa Andrejko, superintendent. "We can't continue to cut programs for things that we're approving, we have to think long term." The district will need to use $3.8 from the fund balance for the upcoming year.
The district also approved the Upper Bucks County Technical School budget during the meeting, which will eventually call for building renovations.
Andrejko stated that the 4.93 percent increase "makes us feel more comfortable" going forward.
The district will be taking advantage of special exceptions given by the state which include special education exceptions and retirement costs. Formal voting will occur during the next meeting, when the preliminary budget must be passed in order for the district to stay on the budgetary timeline.
For the current school year, 2012-13, the school board increased the budget by only 0.95 percent, costing the average tax payer $33 more than the previous year. If the 3.09 percent increase does pass, taxpayers will pay $115 more.
Board members stated they expected that a raise would have to occur in future years because "we went at such a low number last year" and will need a tax increase to even out the funds.
"Anything over one percent is already more money out of people's pocket," Paul Stepanoff, board member, stated.
The finance committee felt that a 3.09 percent increase was "more realistic" than the administrative recommendation of 4.93 percent. The board hopes to not have to use the fund balance money and to have money left over from the budget of the 2012-13 school year. As always, expenditures may be altered after the preliminary budget has been passed.
The official preliminary budget vote will occur at the scheduled meeting held 7 p.m. Feb. 14, 100 Commerce Dr., Quakertown.