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Blue Mountain Votes to Raise Property Taxes

Taxes going up 1.5 mills for 2024-25.

Taxpayers in Blue Mountain School District will be paying a little more next year.

At last week’s school board meeting, members voted to raise property taxes by 1.5 mills. The new millage rate is now 44.325.

That means for every $1,000 in assessed value, a property owner will pay $1.50 more in taxes next year. For example, if a property is assessed at $150,000, the owner must pay an additional $150 more than they did the previous year.

The vote to approve the new millage rate was not unanimous among the Blue Mountain school board members, however.

Rebecca Miller and Rosanne Zelusky opposed raising the millage rate but it passed on a 6-2 vote.

In a letter – signed simply by “Blue Mountain Board of School Directors” – sent to residents of Blue Mountain School District on May 17, board members attempted to defend their decision to raise property taxes and explained why they believe it’s necessary.

They blamed “rising costs associated with inflation” as the primary reason they voted to raise property taxes.

“BMSD has not raised taxes for the past two school years. Yet, inflation has been on the rise,” the letter reads.

Rising health care costs are also being blamed for the tax increase for the 2024-25 school year. Board members say they expect health care costs to go up by $971,371 year-over-year in 2024-25.

They also blamed transportation costs going up by $300,000 from this past year as another reason for the tax increase.

Like all other schools in the area, the cost of students who enroll in cyber charter schools is also affecting Blue Mountain. They encourage people, in their letter, to convince those in the district who’ve enrolled their children in a cyber charter school to consider enrolling in Blue Mountain Virtual Academy.

School board members are also blaming Schuylkill County government for not completing a property tax reassessment for nearly 30 years as a reason they’re forced to raise taxes.

“Our district’s real estate assessed values are set at 1996 prices. Our district and local municipalities are missing out on realistic property values of 2024,” the letter reads.

Two things Blue Mountain board members say aren’t responsible for the property tax increase are the new construction of Blue Mountain Elementary-West in Friedensburg and the turf fields on the campus of Blue Mountain High School.

They say construction of the new school in Wayne Township allowed the district to refinance bonds from prior building projects at a better interest rate. They’ve extended the bonds by 8 years and pay less on them annually, the letter insists.

Further, they say private donations and the district’s Capital Fund covered the costs associated with the turf fields.

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