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Preliminary Budget Carries Tax Increase

Lower Merion's school board approved a 2013-14 preliminary budget Tuesday.

Lower Merion's school board on Tuesday approved a $222 million preliminary budget for the 2013-14 school year. That budget, which will likely be reduced over the coming months, would carry a 4.4 percent real estate tax increase.

The preliminary budget serves as a starting point in the budget approval process, said district spokesperson Doug Young.

In May, the board is expected approve a “proposed budget,” a more refined budget that forms the foundation for a “final budget” to be approved by the board in June, Young said.

School officials had previously cautioned residents that this year’s tax increase is likely to be steeper than last year’s 1.99 percent increase.

Altogether, this year’s budget is $222,134,342, with a $7,665,709 funding gap, according to business manager Victor Orlando. For a $250,000 home—the median household assessment in Lower Merion Township—a 4.4 percent increase would mean a $259 increase over last year, for a total tax bill of $6,146.

Orlando noted several major factors impacting this year’s budget, including salary increases and 16 new faculty and staff positions to accommodate enrollment growth. The district has also experienced a loss in revenue of approximately $400,000, due to a drop in assessed home values.

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