3.5-mill tax hike for Panther Valley
Panther Valley’s 2019-20 budget will include a tax increase.
Before adopting the proposed budget this week, Wayne Gryzik resigned from his position as board president. Gary Porembo, who was vice president, took up the mantle.
He changed the agenda’s order, making the budget the board’s first priority.
“Right now, before we go any further in our meeting, we have got to pass a budget, or there’s no sense in having a meeting,” Porembo said.
The budget introduces a 3.5 mill increase for Carbon County residents; Schuylkill will see a 3.39 mill hike. Even before the rise, the impoverished district had the highest real estate tax millage in the county.
“When you go through everything that we’re going to be spending, we have to increase our taxes,” Porembo said.
“I hope everybody goes for it, because if not, I don’t know what we will do,” he said.
Panther Valley’s budget lays out expenses totaling $28,109,879, up more than $1 million from last year’s expenditures. According to the district’s 2019-20 budget, the general fund will have $680,000 left at the end of the fiscal year.
Superintendent Dennis Kergick said the district has budgeted an additional $700,000 in special education costs. Cyber and charter costs will also increase by roughly $200,000, along with the district’s Public School Employees’ Retirement System expenses.
Kergick said while Panther Valley’s special education costs have raised steadily each year, revenues from the state have remained the same.
Porembo and Gryzik, along with board secretary Renee DeMelfi and board members Steven Foster and William Mansberry voted to adopt the proposed 2019-20 budget. Irene Genther gave the only opposing vote.
The board has increased taxes four times over the last 10 years, according to business manager Kenneth Marx.
“We have to start tightening the belt,” Mansberry said following the vote.
Board members asked the public for help with cutting expenses in February, after passing a preliminary budget that proposed raising taxes by about 2 percent. The school faced a budget deficit with few ways to cut costs, said the school board’s finance committee.
At that time, they approved budgets for Lehigh Carbon Community College, Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21 and Carbon Career and Technical Institute.