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Parkland Proposes 3.67% Tax Hike

Stymied by stagnant revenue, Parkland is proposing to raise taxes 3.67 percent and cut 60 positions.

After months of budget talks, Tuesday approved a proposed $137.8 million budget for 2012-2013 that raises taxes 3.67 percent while cutting 60 staff positions.

The budget would increase the millage rate by 1.46 mills to 41.19 mills. That means a homeowner with property assessed at the district average of $76,912 would pay $3,168 in property taxes, or $112 more than this year.

The board approved the proposed budget 7-0; the final budget will be voted on June 19. 

Going into Tuesday’s meeting, the district was still looking at John Vignone, director of business administration, told board members they could use more of the district’s fund balance to close the gap, while efforts are made to persuade the support staff union to accept a wage freeze for next year.

Otherwise, Parkland is hoping the final state budget might have more funding for public education than what Gov. Tom Corbett proposed and any extra Parkland gets could be used to plug the hole.

The total proposed budget comes to $405,000 less than this year’s, Superintendent Richard Sniscak said, reflecting long negotiations and agonizing choices.

“We’ve done everything we can on the expenditure side,” Sniscak said. Certain programs, such as special education, are costly and mandated by the state but the state doesn’t provide enough funding. “The money doesn’t follow the mandate,” he said. 

Like other school districts, Parkland has been struggling with tax and other revenue sources that are either flat or falling, Vignone said. 

If the support staff accept a wage freeze for 2012-2013, that could close most of the gap.  The administrators this year and the teachers have agreed to a freeze for 2012-2013. The support staff, which includes cafeteria workers, bus drivers, maintenance workers, teaching assistants and secretaries, received a 4.95 percent raise each of the last four years and they are due for another 4.95 percent raise in 2012-2013.

in the proposed budget include 24 professional employees, three administrative jobs and 33 support staff, which will save the district $3.4 million. About 25 of the positions will be lost through attrition, Vignone said. 

Other savings include:

-- $1.3 million in bond refinancing

-- $240,000 in transportation costs from a reduction in elementary school bus runs.

-- $110,000 to athletics, including intramurals

-- 10 percent cut in supplies, districtwide

-- $250,000 less in the budget reserve

-- Use of $3.46 million of the fund balance.

In a prepared statement, Sniscak thanked for next year. Board President Jayne Bartlett said that even with the tax increase, Parkland’s millage rate remains the lowest in Lehigh County when compared to the eight neighboring school districts.

SWT Resident May 16, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Studies done by independent firms show that if the Legislature does not fix the pension problem in this Commonwealth by the year 2016 and if they keep kicking the can down the road like they have been, those that are paying an average of $3,500 in 2012 for school taxes will be paying an average of $7,465 in 2025. Plus there is talk of a special added tax in PA to cover the cost of the pensions, much as they did in Allentown to cover the police and fire dept. pensions. Money will become scarce. The legislative rats in Harrisburg will scurry to their corners and hide. One thing for sure: in 2025 we will still have 253 elected over paid representatives slurping at the tax payer teet, we will still have the most expensive legislature and least efficient of all 50 states, and the natural gas companies making billions in profits STILL won't be paying a penny more in severance. Welcome to Pennsylvania.
John May 20, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Maybe our educators need to take a math lesson, and recognize they are dealing with adults and not 17 year old kids! First, "cutting" 60 jobs and reducing the budget by $405,000 suggests each of the 60 employees were averaging $6,700/yr. I think NOT! "Cutting" a $137 million budget by $405,000 is a whopping "savings" of .3 of 1%. Way to wield that machete Board! Finally, after all of the massive cuts, you are still left with a $462,000 budget "gap". Then our Superintendant claims we have done everything we can do on the expenditure side. Wow! Who balances your checkbooks at home, the kid from the etrade ads???? Are you kidding me? Does it bother anyone that the "deficit" (not a "gap") is as much as the .3% "reduction" our mathematical financial geniuses have presented? Finally, like many taxpayers in the Parkland school district, who can afford these outlandish taxes, I have to secure an annual budget, in my case @ $50 million annually. I can honestly say I would be fired if my "cuts" ($405,000) left my company with a $462,000 deficit. Moreover, the LAST thing I would be announcing is an expected salary increase for fiscal 12-13 if my budget remained $462,000 in the red. Of course I, like most taxpayers live in the adult real world, where I would be fired for incompetence if I were to manage my company like this school board!
John May 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Solution? Why not allow some of the more competent business people in the community come into your fiscal planning meeting and exhibit to you how to run a $137 million company. As for those "Support staffers" who have enjoyed a 20% salary increase over the last 4 years, I would begin by firing the person or group who allowed such a raise, and inform them they work for a company in financial duress, and we have to tighten our belts, not delve out 20% salary increases. And if they don't like it, we can find other cafeteria workers and mechanics to do their jobs with 10% unemployment! Finally, I would also suggest leading by example. Those who make the most, taking a 4% salary increase burden the system greater than others. Clue in, your company is running in the RED! "Nobody spends your money faster than somebody else" --how appropriate a quote!
John May 20, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Alex, I believe the average homeowner in the Parkland School district is considerably greater. I agree. Housing in this district will eventually decrease the values of our homes due to the extreme school taxes we pay, as those interested buyers will not be able to afford the home or willing to accept the cost of the school taxes! The trickle down effect on those financing the incompetent financial wizards in our school board will eventually lead to mass exodus by quality personnel. See the significant changes we are seeing in this year's upper echelon. The good ole boys club is simply moving everyone up when some leave to other districts, and others bail knowing its about to hit the fan......of course retiring with a lifetime guaranteed salary called a pension, simply ads to the costs of living in this school district! Given the opportunity, I would take the pension dollars and bail as well.
SWT Resident May 21, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Many...and I mean MANY private sector workers have not seen a raise in at least 5 years. In fact,,,,MANY took a reduction in pay rate AND/OR cut working hours so the company they work for can stay afloat and the employee has some type of income. My taxes, in general, have continued to climb every year whether it be to cover teachers salaries or some other guaranteed pension some where. I've had to cut contributions to my OWN pension in order to pay for someone else's. How cool is that? Our elected officials better get their crap together or all that will be left in PA are section 8'ers and those over 80. Look at the numbers from our last census. That is exactly where PA is heading unless those that write the rules don't get their heads out of their asses. The schools are stripping the wealth out of the communities either in direct tax cost OR increased tax burden driving the saleability of a home into the toilet.

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