News Column

Mahanoy Area board approves formal budget with tax increase

June 27, 2014

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

June 27--MAHANOY CITY -- The Mahanoy Area school board formally adopted the final general fund budget for the 2014-15 school year Thursday that will increase real estate tax by 1.4 mills.

The school board voted 5-1, with Thomas Bashinsky, Nancy Boyle, Steve Gnall, David Kurzinsky and Karen Yedsena voting in favor. The lone negative vote was from Michael Mistishen. Absent was Mary Agnes DiCasimirro, John Erbe and Jay Hanley.

The 1.4 mill increase will set the real estate tax rate at 46.2 mills. The current millage is 44.8 mills. Each mill brings in about $81,000 in tax revenue. 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.

Business Administrator John J. Hurst said in the "Final General Fund Budget Executive Summary," this is the only the second tax increase in the last eight years. The increase will add an extra $26.33 in real estate taxes for the average property assessed at $19,426.

The total expenditures of $17,172,959 is lower than the tentative budget of $17,348,664, a reduction of $175,105 from last month. The formal budget includes the elimination of three teaching positions and one full-time custodial position.

All other taxes remain the same:

- Occupation tax: $130

- Real estate transfer tax: One-half of one percent

- Earned income tax: One-half of one percent

- Occupational privilege tax: $5

- Amusement tax: Five percent

The budgeted revenue from local, state, federal and other financing sources for the next fiscal year is $17,117,070, which is 4.51 percent higher than the current fiscal year budget.

However, total expenditures are higher than total revenue by $59,889. The budget will be balanced by taking the deficit amount from the uncommitted fund balance of $750,000.

The budget includes:

- A net increase in Public School Employees' Retirement System costs of $138,152

- An increase in charter school costs of $131,000

- A Student Focused Funding Supplement of $213,338, which is part of Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed Ready to Learn Block Grant

After the meeting, Mistishin said a tax increase is not the answer.

"I think there were other options to exhaust before we made the final decision," Mistishin said. "I'm not for tax increases for the community because I think people are already taxed to the point of no return. I'm just looking out for the people."

In other business, the school board voted 5-1 to authorize Superintendent Joie L. Green and Hurst to approve change orders up to $2,500 per change order for the auditorium project.

On the change order vote, which Mistishin cast the lone negative vote, he said, "We're already watching how much money we spend, and I think anything over a much lesser amount of money should come before the board for approval.


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Source: Republican & Herald (Pottsville, PA)

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