Last updated: June 29. 2013 1:44AM - 1919 Views

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EXETER — The Wyoming Area School Board, in a close vote Thursday night, adopted a $30.15 million budget for 2013-14 that includes a 2.3 percent property tax increase on Luzerne County properties in the district.

Properties located in Exeter Township in Wyoming County will see a 0.5 percent reduction in the property tax rate.

Under the spending plan’s tax increase, owners of a Luzerne County home assessed at $125,000 will see an increase of $38.93, while owners of a home assessed at $250,000 will see a $77.85 increase.

The district’s fund balance as of July 1 will be $4 million but is projected to fall to $3.4 million by June 30, 2014.

The budget was passed 5-4 with John Bolin, Frank Casarella, Gil Dominick, Deanna Farrell and John Marianacci voting for it, and Mary Louise Degnan, Estelle Campenni, Carl Yorina Jr. and Elizabeth Gober-Mangan voting against it.

The new rate reflects a tax of 13.8522 mills for Exeter, Exeter Township, West Pittston, West Wyoming and Wyoming. The reduction in the Wyoming County portion of the district is a result of a comparison adjustment of the area’s property values. The new tax for this area will be 76.9683 mills. One mill represents $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed taxable property value.

Teachers from the district are planning a strike for Sept. 3, if a contract agreement cannot be reached. For the past three years, the teachers have worked under an expired agreement. Business Manager Tom Melone said that a strike potentially could be avoided if the board agrees to use some of the funds in the fund balance or place some of the expenditures on hold.

The board plans on advertising for the job of superintendent at the August meeting, as Superintendent Raymond Bernardi is planning to retire

There was a lengthy dispute during the meeting regarding a motion to spend in excess of $100,000 to redesign the entrance to the secondary center building. Visitors currently have free access into the building. The redesign would make it impossible to enter the building without first being observed by a camera, and then visitors would need to be admitted by an electronic buzzer system, used at the discretion of an office or faculty member. The motion was tabled by the board.

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