By a 6-2 vote Monday night, the Whitehall-Coplay School Board approved a $74.6 million budget that includes a 4.98 percent school tax hike for property owners.
The increase translates to about $148 more a year for the average residential property in the township. The current millage rate of 17.21 will increase to 18.07 mills with respect to the real estate property tax.
The 2019-2020 budget is an increase of just over 6% from the current school year, and as prepared with the tax increase will balance revenues with projected expenditures. In addition, for the budget to balance Whitehall has to draw just over $2 million from its general fund balance.
According to district documents, the state tax gaming rebate will be $172 to approved homestead and farmstead properties.
School Board Directors Tina Koren and Owen Eberhart Jr. voted against the budget's final adoption. The ninth board member George Makhoul was absent from the meeting.
District documents outlining state laws and mandates allow the district to increase taxes by a maximum of 3% without submitting any special exceptions for additional expenditures.
The budget includes adding five and a half new teaching jobs in the district in order to implement a full-day kindergarten program and one new teaching assistant position.
Other reasons for the tax increase include a net $200,000 in district employee retirement contributions (PSERS), a $450,000 increase in charter school tuition, and an $800,000 increase in special education expenses.