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Board on 2012-13 Budget: Tax Increase Inevitable
Written by Kelly Chandler, Staff Writer

        Upper Perkiomen School Board President Harry Quinque said Thursday it’s not a matter of if taxes are going to increase with next year’s district budget; it’s just a question of how much.

        Quinque announced the board is deciding how much to increase the real estate millage and noted they have narrowed it down to somewhere between 0 and 2 mills; a 7.51 to 9.6 percent increase.
        The effect of a 0 mill tax rate increase would affect the median property in Berks County with a $176.77 hike for 2012-13 and the median Montgomery County property with a $223.28 increase. A 2 mill increase would raise taxes for those counties $227.39 and $287.22, respectively, for the median properties.
        The district is allowed to raise taxes up to 2 mills according to state regulations for next year.
        The board voted to utilize a 0 mill increase for this year’s budget last June, which still raised taxes more than 7 percent because of the formula by which the county calculates property taxes.
        “That’s where we’re gonna struggle,” Quinque said. “Where between the 0 and 2 percent we’re gonna be.”
        The district will continue to work on the budget at a finance committee meeting April 24 at 7 p.m. as well as at its next budget meeting April 25 at 7 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Education Center on E. Buck Road, Pennsburg.
        In other district news, the board agreed to contract extensions for Assistant Superintendent Dr. Fran Leskowicz and Business Administrator Sandy Kassel. Leskowicz’s contract is extended until Dec. 31, 2015 and Kassel’s until June 13, 2017. 
        The terms of the contracts stayed the same, officials said, aside from a few additional vacation days for Kassel. Leskowicz’s contract also reflected a pay freeze for next year. 
        The board’s vote received one ‘no’ from Director Margie Gehlhaus who said she couldn’t vote for the extensions because she was opposed to the original contract agreement which included six years of paid healthcare coverage from the district after the individuals were done employment with Upper Perk.
        The board also agreed to contact Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks) and possibly to host a forum on school property tax reform in lieu of House Bill 1776 known as the “Property Tax Independence Act.” The bill is reportedly a comprehensive financial reform plan that replaces the property tax with a series of alternative revenue sources.   
        “Let’s have the debate locally and see where it goes from there,” said Director Rob Pepe. “Let’s see if the math works.”
        In other business, the board also agreed to move the last student day and graduation up to June 8 and to approve a resolution allowing for all real estate taxes to be paid on in installments.
        An agreement was reached in Montgomery County Court to reduce the assessment for Macoby Run Golf Course in Marlborough Township, one of the district’s two outstanding large-scale assessment appeals. The district will owe the golf course owners a refund in the amount of $29,480.50 for the last two school years because of the reduction.





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