The Quakertown Community School Board approved its preliminary budget for 2013 - 14 during Thursday night's school board meeting, voting to increase the millage rate by 3.28%, which is .19% higher than suggested at their last meeting.

The board decided to go with the recommendation of the finance committee, which will increase real estate taxes an average of $122 for the upcoming year.

During the Superintendent's report, Dr. Lisa Andrejko told the board that they need to think about the future and the things they have already approved, such as renovations for the High School and Upper Bucks Technical School. Both renovations are already approved by the board. "Consider planning for the future," she said. The administration recommendation called for a millage increase of 7.82% from the prior year, which would have set the average real estate tax to increase $206, which was not approved by the board.
Andrejko specified that the record should reflect the board did not take the recommendation of the administration.

"I think the difference in the approach is we're trying to make a little more realistic assumption of where we're going to be at the final budget," stated Bob Smith, board president, explaining that the final budget numbers are expected to be lower than the preliminary rate.

The total expenditures of the budget is $96,897,881. The millage rate increase consists of the Act 1 index at 1.7% increase, and Act 1 exceptions at 1.58%. The board states that they will do everything they can to lower the increases, making financial cuts where needed, but once voted upon, the rate can not be higher than the 3.28% increase.

"Many of our taxpayers have had to adjust their budgets downward, therefore I must insist that the Quakertown School District review and adjust their tentative budget," board member Zane R. Stauffer, suggesting that the board administer a 1.7% increase instead to recognize the problems facing the taxpayers.

"If we don't go somewhere in the middle, it's going to become a huge burden next year," said Anna Cattie, board member.

"The taxpayers have to insist that the legislatures get busy and change [the] laws," Stauffer said, referring to the teachers retirement funds.

Kelly Van Valkenburgh was the only present board member to give her veto in the vote for the 3.28% increase. Board member Paul Stepanoff was not present at the meeting.

The budget amounts can be altered until June when a vote on the final budget occurs. The next work session and regular voting meeting (as needed) of the Quakertown Community School Board is set to be at 7 p.m. March 14 at 100 Commerce Drive, Quakertown.