residents braced for a for 2012-13 can breathe a bit easier.
The B-W School Board on Wednesday night moved away from that figure and toward a 0.5-mill increase instead. On June 13, the board will have a final vote on the proposed increase as part of its $60.5-million budget.
If approved, the owner of a property with an assessed value of $100,000 in , or can expect to pay an additional $50 per year as the district's tax rate rises to 23.90 mills. (Click here to calculate your individual taxes.)
Property reassessments for 2013 will not affect Baldwin-Whitehall until its 2013-14 school year budget.
District Superintendent Dr. Lawrence C. Korchnak said that the move to a lesser millage increase is the result of one-time adjustments in spending for various programs during the coming school year. District officials also plan to utilize around $500,000 of the Baldwin-Whitehall fund balance—the budgetary surplus that the school board has been accumulating.
In theory, the district could hold its tax line by tapping further into that surplus, but rising costs—particularly with regard to employee contracts, health insurance and the state Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS)—make it prudent to maintain a healthy fund balance, according to some administrators and school board members.
Board President John B. Schmotzer pointed out that the district has not raised property taxes since a 1.50-mill increase in 2006-07. Since then, the rate has been lowered three times.
"We have saved the taxpayers $6.4 million in the past four years," Schmotzer said. "There comes a time when we're going to ask for a little back. This is necessary—very necessary—to maintain stability in this school district."
Schmotzer said that financial stability helps the district to maintain a , which in turn, has helped it to save money on insurance when floating and refinancing bond issues.
Although Baldwin-Whitehall faces state funding cuts, it has not been forced to take measures similar to what has occurred in other Pennsylvania school districts.
"This budget does not reduce any education programs whatsoever," Schmotzer said.
Check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch later on Thursday for more odds and ends from Wednesday night's school board meeting.
Sign up for the daily Baldwin-Whitehall newsletter.