School property taxes will not increase this year in the Tamaqua Area School District.
Tuesday night, the Tamaqua Area School Board approved a final budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year that will keep property tax millage at the present rate of 41.77 mills.
The spending plan begins with a fund balance of $2,797,194, and incoming revenue is expected to be $36,788,942. Expenses of $37,920,027 are expected.
In the tentative budget, a $2.08 million fund balance was expected, but Business Manager Connie Ligenza said the district expected to take “a month off” from its self-funded health insurance payment. But that isn’t the case, so another $400,000 had to be added to the budget, cutting the budget surplus to $1,666,099.
Board President Larry Witting was still happy taxes didn’t have to be raised.
“We try to go without a tax increase,” Wittig said, “We have a good safety net. They say we should have a 5-8% fund balance, and we do, to prevent a tax increase. But next year, the teachers’ contract will be up. A tax increase is a last resort to balance a budget and provide a superior education.”
The board voted to hire three full-time teachers: Brett Hoch, Tamaqua, high school math, bachelor’s step 4, $45,751; Jessica Reynolds, Orwigsburg, middle school English, masters’ step 1½, $52,184, and James Hahn, Schnecksville, assistant principal to the director of special education, $85,000.
The board authorized the purchase of Chromebooks from CoStars vendor Blumm Inc. of Arizona, at a cost not to exceed $120,000.
Kenneth Dunkelberger, the district’s chief operations officer, said the district has to replace 300-400 Chromebooks per year.
“We try to get three years out of them,” he said. “We collect them every year to examine them. We reissue them to the same students every year. If they are abused, the student gets a bill. Some students take out insurance on them.”
Dunkelberger told the board the district has saved about $130,000 on new separation doors for the gymnasiums in both the high school and elementary school.
The district was set to buy new mesh separators for $140,000 for both buildings when the manufacturer of the present doors was able to locate discontinued parts to repair the present doors in both buildings for $10,000 that district Superintendent Ray Kinder said the district will “get 10 to 15 years out of.”
The high school was built in 1968, and the elementary school in 1979, Dunkelberger noted.
The board voted to purchase security cameras from Dauphin DataComm for $17,999.66. Dunkelberger said the cameras will go near the middle school doors.
The board approved the 2023-24 health and safety plan.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Stephen Toth said several safety tests have been made.
“We have done all types of evacuations, including severe weather,” Toth said, “We did fire drills, interior and exterior. We are exploring new signage. We are looking into a communications grant for walkie-talkies, and more and upgraded surveillance, a fitness grant. It will be outdoor fitness equipment that will be placed near the tennis courts.
Ligenza said the district stands to save about $50,000 on its new insurance policy for the 2023-24 fiscal year.
The board also approved the rebate, face and penalty periods for per capita, assessed occupation and real estate taxes for 2023-24: Rebate, July to August, 2%; face, September to October, and penalty, November to December, 10%.
The board also approved the prom for the Class of 2024 to be held May 4, 2024 at Capriotti’s in the McAdoo Industrial Park.