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Tax Hike Included in Proposed Preliminary East Penn Budget

East Penn School District will seek exceptions to raise taxes above the standard index in developing its 2014-2015 budget, but the budget process is only beginning.

East Penn Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger (Patch File Photo)
East Penn Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger (Patch File Photo)

It’s very early in the process, but at this point it seems that East Penn taxpayers will see their taxes go up with the 2014-2015 school district budget. The only question that remains is how much that increase will be.

That was the basic message of a brief budget presentation delivered by East Penn Business Manager Debra Surdoval at Monday night’s meeting of the East Penn Board of School Directors. 

The budget presented by Surdoval specifically calls for a 4.57 percent school tax increase. State law actually limits the district to a 2.1 percent increase, but Act 1 also allows schools to seek exceptions that would allow a higher increase, which the administration intends to do.

Monday night was the deadline for the East Penn School Board to pass a resolution to stay within the 2.1 percent index and no resolution was put forth. 

During her brief time at the podium, Surdoval focused more on the budget process than she did on specific numbers. The time to delve into the numbers, will come soon enough, the administration said, calling the proposed preliminary budget a "worst case scenario" in a prepared statement handed out to the media when Surdoval was finished.

"It is a foregone conclusion that the final budget the Board adopts in June will be dramatically different than the one that has been posted to meet the time requirements of the PDE (Pennsylvania Department of Education)," the release says.

The next critical milestone in that process will happen on Feb. 4 when Gov. Tom Corbett unveils his state budget. "The administration wants to remind the press and the public that we have no idea what Governor Corbett will propose," the release says, "and we have no idea what the Legislature will eventually support. This annual guessing game is problematic on many levels."

The first step in the East Penn budget process actually happened about 10 day ago, on Jan. 17, when the district made the proposed preliminary budget available for public review, according to Surdoval.

Another important step will happen at the board's Feb. 10 meeting, when that budget is put to a vote, she explained.

The final 2014-2015 budget isn't up for final adoption until June 23. 

ted.dobracki January 28, 2014 at 12:19 AM
Sadly, East Penn has recently fallen from the 3rd to the 6th lowest millage rate of all 10 school districts in Lehigh County. And that is for the 2013-14 school/fiscal year without including any changes from the 2014-15 budgets presently under consideration.
optimist January 28, 2014 at 05:40 AM
due to reassessment EP went from 3rd to 6th
ted.dobracki January 28, 2014 at 09:10 AM
Agree, EP's property re-assessment didn't go up as much as other districts' did. And the reassessment was revenue neutral (although not for individual property owners) and there even was a zero tax increase last year. The end result may have some profound consequences.

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