EASTON, Pa. – The Easton Area School District will likely introduce its 2021-22 school budget with a 2% tax rate increase at its next public meeting.
The school board discussed the anticipated increase at its Tuesday night committee meeting. The proposed 2021-22 school year budget of $177 million reflects a $5.4 million increase from last year's $171,600,000 budget that came with no increase in taxes.
The 2% tax rate increase equates to a 65.56 millage rate, a monthly increase of about $7 or an annual increase of around $79 for an average assessed home, officials said.
If the board approves the 2% rate increase, it would more specifically equate to a monthly increase of $9 for an average home assessed in Palmer and Forks townships, a $5 monthly increase for an average home assessed in the city of Easton, and a $4 monthly increase for an average home assessed in the portion of Lower Mount Bethel Township served by EASD. Annual increases would equate to $54, $57, $103, and $110 for each municipality, respectively.
Officials had thought there would be a 3.9% increase but were able to reduce it down to 2% by borrowing $4 million from the general fund balance in order to make up the deficit. In order to keep the 2020-21 budget rate flat, $6 million was borrowed from the general fund.
According to Superintendent David Piperato, the rate increase is largely due to salary and benefits, charter tuition increases and Colonial Intermediate Unit 20.
Officials said there is a chance that the tax rate could be decreased if the district receives state aid. Pennsylvania is expected to receive a total of $7 billion in federal aid next week through the American Rescue Plan but details about how the funds will be spent in the state have not yet been announced.
"I don't think the governor is going to get what he's asking for but that doesn't mean that school districts are not going to get what he's proposing," Piperato said.
The board is expected to vote on the preliminary budget at its May 25 meeting. Final adoption is anticipated at the June 22 meeting.