Last updated: March 16. 2013 8:14PM - 287 Views
SUSAN DENNEY Times Leader Correspondent

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LEHMAN TWP. -- Lake-Lehman School Board on Monday night voted for a preliminary budget for 2013-2014 of $28.2 million that calls for a 3.98 percent raise in millage rates.

The proposed millage on assessed value in Luzerne County would become 9.6393 mills. The millage rate for those properties which lie in Wyoming County would become 56.2054.

A mill is a $1 tax on each $1,000 of assessed property value.

With the new tax rate, a property worth $200,000 in Luzerne county would pay an additional $73.86 for the year. A property with an assessed value of $25,000 in Wyoming county would pay an additional 68.64 for the year.

This is far from the $700-plus number quoted by the Back Mountain Suburban News in a recent article about the district. At the beginning of the meeting, Board President Mark Kornoski said the article in the Suburban News was completely untrue.

Tom Melone, the district's financial manager, said the state's contribution to the district would be increased by about $226,000. But he also said that even with those contributions and the tax increase, the district would still not have a balanced budget.

Melone projects that revenues for the district will be $26.7 million. He said the district would need to take $1.88 million from the district's current fund balance to cover 2013-2014 expenses.

Melone pointed out at a previous meeting that the state-allowed tax increase of 2.1 mills would not cover the projected retirement cost increase for the district in the 2013-14 school year.

When residents questioned the rising costs, board members explained that retirement costs and health costs were driving the increases.

Board member Richard Bombick said the cost to the district from students attending cyber schools also make it impossible for the board to balance the budget.

A final budget must be approved by June 30.

In other matters:

Superintendent James McGovern told residents and the board of a recent visit to the district by Gov. Tom Corbett. McGovern said the governor's office had set up strict parameters for the visit including lists of those who could participate in a meeting with him.

McGovern also said he was not allowed to publicize the visit. McGovern said that there was dialogue with the governor.

This little school district has the ear of the governor, he said.

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