CATAWISSA RR - Southern Columbia Area School District was approved for an exception by the state to raise taxes above the maximum threshold in order to help fill a $454,100 deficit in the 2013-14 budget.

Director Eric Stahley, chairman of the finance committee, told the board Monday night that using the exception, which was approved for pension funding, could generate an additional $160,000 in tax revenue to help fill the gap.

However, the $18,465,177 preliminary budget that remains in the hole does not yet take into account any taxes or exceptions, and the administration will be researching additional methods on how to fill the hole, Stahley said.

In order to fill that deficit with tax increases only, Northumberland County property owners would see a raise from 49.95 mills to 57.24 mills while Columbia County property owners would see a raise from 34.20 mills to 38.77 mills.

On a property assessed at $20,000, Columbia County residents would see an average increase of $91 a year while Northumberland County residents would see an average increase of $146 a year.

The board will also be working in the next few months on contract negotiations with the teacher union, the American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees (AFSCME), which represents non-teaching staff and Act 93 employees including administration.

High school Principal James Becker provided the board with copies of Act 93 contracts from other districts in order to better inform them of what other boards have been providing for administration.

Vice President Charlie Porter, chairman of the negotiations and personnel committee, said the teacher union proposal was received by the board and the committee will be putting together their own proposal.