News Column

North Schuylkill budget includes smaller tax increase

June 22, 2014

By John E. Usalis, Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.

June 22--FOUNTAINSPRINGS -- The North Schuylkill school board formally adopted its 2014-15 final budget that includes a real estate tax increase, though smaller than originally anticipated.

The school approved the spending plan totaling $26,059,203, a decrease from the tentative budget of $26,213,564 adopted in April. With the reduction of $154,361 in the spending plan, the proposed 1.1 mill real estate tax increase is reduced to 0.29 mills. The new tax rate will be 37.96 mills in Schuylkill and Columbia counties. One mill brings in about $170,000. Real estate taxes are levied against half a property's assessed value. Each mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of half the assessed value.

However, the occupational assessment tax will see an increase, something that was not in the tentative budget. The current tax of 213.50 will increase by $5 to $218.50.

The school board voted 6-2 in approval of the budget. Voting in favor was Charles Hepler, Suzanne O'Neill, Glenn Weist, Thomas Fletcher, Douglas Gressens and Janine Simms. Voting against was Raymond Reichwein and Mark Kessler. Roy Green was absent.

In addition to the real estate tax and occupational assessment tax, the following taxes were approved without change from the 2013-14 budget year by the same 6-2 vote:

- Real estate transfer tax -- One percent (shared with school district and municipalities)

- Earned income tax -- One percent (shared with school district and municipalities)

- Local services tax -- $5.

The school board approved at the April meeting the following dates for real estate and occupational assessment tax payments:

- Discount period ends Aug. 31, and regular (face amount) period ends Oct. 31.

- Tax installments no later than Aug. 31, Sept. 30 and Oct. 31.

After the meeting, Business Manager Robert Amos said the occupation tax increase will bring in about $18,000, and the increased real estate tax millage will bring in about $54,000.

Amos said there were a few areas where savings were realized in the final budget.

"There are some retirements, so we were able to cut wages. Health insurance was redone," Amos said. "Those are the main items."

In April, district Superintendent Andrew D. Smarkanic said increases in expenses was partially in preparation for the upcoming renovation project that includes an addition onto the elementary building.

During the meeting, the school board approved the submission of PlanCon F-Contruction Documents to the state Department of Education for the high school and elementary school projects.

The school board also authorized the administration to advertise for bids for the renovation projects.


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Source: Republican & Herald (Pottsville, PA)

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