By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — Lewisburg Area school directors Thursday night approved a $29 million budget that includes a real-estate tax increase of 0.58 mills, which translates to a $77.84 hike for an average property owner.
The median assessed value of a property in Lewisburg is $134,200.
The $29 million spending plan is a 2.55 percent increase over last year’s $28.3 million budget.
Superintendent Mark DiRocco explained before the vote that the budget option he was recommending represented one of five options — and the one that included the smallest tax increase.
“In choosing this option,” DiRocco said, “I’ve tried, as always, to balance the needs of the district with the needs of the taxpayers.”
He then cautioned that “We have certain obligations that are mandated, and certainly keeping an eye on retirement costs that we’ll have to make next year, anywhere from $500,000 to $600,000.”
Director Michael Payne praised DiRocco, saying “You’ve managed to squeeze blood out of a turnip.”
Voting for the budget were Mary K. Brouse, Tera Unzicker-Fassero, Mark Hendrickson, Michael Payne, Myrna Perkins, Fred Scheller, Kathy K. Swope and Edward Zych.
Voting against the final budget was Mary Howe.
Howe said that she opposed the budget because of two reserve transfers with which she disagreed.
DiRocco shot back, explaining that the money was needed in capital reserve for unexpected expenditures.
“If you don’t have an account to go to for that money, you wind up borrowing it and costing the taxpayer even more money,” he said.
DiRocco insisted that the transfer of funds was “prudent financial planning. I believe we are being prudent with taxpayer dollars.”
The board also approved an administrative reorganization, deciding not to replace the assistant high school principal.
The move saves the district $71,000, DiRocco said.
As he did last year, DiRocco again volunteered to have his pay frozen for a year at $150,000.