Recognizing that some Southern Lehigh residents are going to be in for a big shock when their property tax bills arrive next year, the school district issued a statement that it will do its best not to raise millage.
At Monday’s meeting, School Board President Dr. Thomas McLoughlin said as the board and district administration starts to work on next year’s budget, they will keep in mind that some taxpayers are going to get hammered by the Lehigh County reassessment which will affect 2013 tax bills.
McLoughlin said Superintendent Leah Christman is sympathetic to board efforts to try to see that next year there is no millage hike.
Reading a statement from Christman, McLoughlin said: “We are planning to develop a zero increase budget and are working to enlist all our staff members in our plans to accomplish that goal.”
Many of the district’s residents with newer, bigger homes have benefited from reassessment, which the county started in 2011, McLoughlin said. But others – especially longtime residents in older homes – will see their property taxes rise dramatically because their homes were assessed at much higher market values. The last Lehigh County reassessment was in 1991.
He pointed out that even though some residents will be paying a lot more in 2013, the reassessment will be “revenue neutral” for the district – meaning Southern Lehigh will see no additional tax money. The county reassessment plan is to bring in the same amount of tax money once the new assessments are in place. It’s just some people will pay more and others less.
Holding the line on taxes is a tall order, McLoughlin said.
“It won’t be easy for us, it will create some future challenges for us as a board in years to come,” McLoughlin said. “When I think about how many in our district are going to be faced with significant tax increases in the year to come, if there’s a year where we can show sensitivity and not add to that, next year’s the year to do it. So we're going to try.”
The district starts work on the 2013-2014 budget in November and must by law approve the final version no later than June 2013.