Parkland Rolls Out Preliminary 2013-2014 Budget
Any tax hike will depend on factors such as county reassessment, federal funding.
Parkland's 2013-2014 budget of $145.2 million was previewed Tuesday night but there are still some unknown factors such as Lehigh County property reassessments and federal funding that make it impossible to estimate any potential property tax increases.
Parkland's Director of Business Administration John Vignone told directors the district will have to adjust its millage in order to make the reassessment revenue neutral. He said Lehigh County is the first in the state to reassess property values since Act 1, which limits tax increases school districts can impose without referendum, was adopted.
"We are learning something new every day," Vignone said. "But Act 1 does permit a 1.7 percent increase...so it’s going to be revenue neutral plus 1.7 percent."
Appeals to new assessments are another unknown factor, and Vignone said he didn't expect them to be done until February. He said he hopes to get the new assessment numbers "sometime over Thanksgiving."
Overall, expenditures in the preliminary budget are projected to increase by $7.5 million. Mandatory pension costs are increasing by about $3.2 million and the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, will cause increases in health-care costs.
"Medical costs are going up about 5 percent - that's a major hit on our budget," Vignone said.
Salaries are also projected to increase a little more than $2 million and debt service is up $1.1 million.
Projected revenues are expected to total $135.8 million, leaving a $9.4 million gap. However, Vignone said the difference doesn't calculate any "allowable dollar increase or exceptions we can file or appropriating any of the fund balance."
There is some good news, according to Vignone. He said he expects revenue to increase.
"We've had some new employers come into the district like Ocean Spray and Creditsafe," Vignone said.
The budget also includes money for projects outlined in the district's most recent Feasibility Study, like renovations to Kratzer Elementary School.
"This is a first look; we will now start peeling it back," Vignone said.