EXETER — The Wyoming Area School Board passed a $37.2 million budget for the 2018-19 school year that includes a tax increase of slightly more than 3 percent for property owners.
The vote to approve the spending plan was 8-1 with only Carmen Bolin opposed. Bolin did not offer an explanation for his vote during the public meeting.
Wyoming Area School Board business consultant Tom Melone mentioned that Luzerne County residents in Exeter, Exeter Township, West Pittston, West Wyoming and Wyoming will see taxes rise 3.2 percent to 16.4496 mills.
“Taxes on a home assessed at $125,000 would (pay) an additional $64.11,” Melone said.
A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.
The school district also extends into part of Wyoming County, and the millage rate there would rise to 79.4771.
“The district has experienced a $10 million reduction in their assessed evaluation,” Melone explained of the need for a tax hike. “It’s also due in part to a 6.3 percent increase in health care and expressed costs in special and cyber education.”
Despite the new budget of $37,199,356, Melone warns the district is approaching dangerous territory after the next school year ends.
“The school district brings in a revenue of $35,099,203 a year,” Melone stated. “At the end of the 18-19’ school year, that leaves us with a fund balance of $1,169,236.”
“Next year, expect difficult cuts,” Melone continued.
The budget did not draw any opposition from residents at the meeting.
They were more concerned about the board’s sale of the former Sarah J. Dymond Elementary to Sutton Creek Properties, a limited liability corporation created by a physician from Mountain Top. A drug treatment facility is now proposed for the site.
Residents said they were upset how the sale was kept under wraps and how they didn’t get a chance to purchase the property themselves.
The school board repeatedly deferred to the Exeter Township Zoning Board on the controversial issue.
Residents also implied the school sale wasn’t handled properly, but the school board denied that.
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