LEHMAN TWP. — The Lake-Lehman School Board on Monday preliminarily approved a proposed $30 million 2016-17 budget that includes a 4-percent tax hike.
The proposal was submitted to the school board by Thomas Melone, of Albert Melone and Company, a certified public accounting firm in Pittston Township.
“Lake-Lehman School District has the ability to raise taxes by 3 percent without doing any referendum (under the Pennsylvania Act 1 Index),” Melone said.
But with too many unknown factors, such as state funding, Melone suggested the district be proactive in seeking a property tax-limit increase exception based on the rising costs of special education and retirement costs under the state’s Act 1 Index.
“This does not mean the district has to use it (the tax hike),” Melone said.
The 2016-17 proposed preliminary budget is based on estimated figures compiled from the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, he said.
“It is so early in the (budget) process we don’t know where 2015-16 (school year) is at,” Melone said.
The district is still waiting for state funding that is held up in a legislative impasse. Melone said the district received over $4 million at the beginning of the month when Gov. Tom Wolf released emergency funding to school districts statewide.
The proposed preliminary budget suggests a property tax increase from 9.9656 mills to 10.3804 mills for Harveys Lake Borough, and the townships of Lake, Ross, Jackson and Lehman. The proposed property tax increase on an average assessed home valued at $140,750 would equal and additional $58 in those municipalities, Melone said.
A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.
Noxen Township in Wyoming County would be assessed 53.7379 mills, according to the proposed preliminary budget. The millage for Noxen Township was not discussed in depth.
The proposed preliminary 2016-17 school budget is slated for a final vote in May.
The proposed preliminary school budget is available on the district’s website, www.lake-lehman.k12.pa.us, or in the office of the Lake-Lehman High School for public viewing.
Last May, the district did not raise property taxes on residents in Luzerne County.
The next Lake-Lehman School Board monthly meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 in the library at the high school.