The Northampton Board of Education outlined a preliminary budget for the 2014-15 school year at this Monday’s meeting that would result in a 3.5 percent increase for taxpayers.
This 1.67 millage increase would raise the municipality’s overall total from 47.7 to 49.4. The tax hike can be partially attributed to an overall increase in expenditures by $793,000 or .9% of the overall budget.
According to board members, however, these rates remain lower than other districts in the Lehigh Valley.
“For the most part the board has done a great job with respect to other districts” said Superintendent Joseph Kovalchik, citing an analysis showing that Northampton had the second lowest millage relative to other surrounding districts.
Kovalchik stated that the district has no plans to create additional positions in the coming year, and will rather balance the budget by reducing their reliance on rainy day funds.
“This is a great example of using less savings to balance our budget,” he said.
Superintendent Kovalchik and Treasurer Terry Len insisted that healthcare costs and PSERS, the district’s retirement system, are two primary reasons for the rising cost of education.
According to their analysis healthcare costs for the Northampton schools will rise by 7.3 percent this coming year.
Other factors include unfunded state mandates and the building of the new Northampton Middle School.
Northampton’s expenditures for the 2014-15 school year currently project to total over 89 million dollars, with an anticipated deficit of over five million.
For a community member earning an average salary of roughly $57,000, these proposed tax increases will result in a $96 dollar increase in tax for the year.
The preliminary budget will still be subject to numerous changes though, particularly due to the fact that the governor’s yearly budget has yet to be unveiled.
Joseph Kovalchik assured the audience in attendance that the board would be able to reduce this projected increase.
“Our goal is to get below that 3.5 index,” he said. “There’s a ton of unknowns but I can promise you that number will come down.”
The preliminary budget will be voted on at the board’s next meeting on Monday January 27th and will continue to be discussed throughout the first half of the year.
A tentative approval of the final budget has been set for June 9th.