Tuesday, May 21, 2013

$53 MIlion School Budget Would Hike Taxes by 2.4%

The Pottstown School Board adopted a $53 million preliminary budget which, if finalized, would raise property taxes by 2.4 percent.

The following information is culled from the "Letter of Transmittal," Business Manager Linda Adams conveyed to the school board on May 13.

The proposed budget increases spending by just over $1 million and represents a 2.1 percent spending increase over the current budget.

The primary expenditures in the budget are salaries and benefits which, when taken together, comprise 69 percent of total expenditures, Adams wrote.

When the $722,281 increase in salaries and $433,185 in benefits are taken together, they add up to an additional $1.2 million, or 3.2 percent. "This includes a retirement (payment) increase of 37.09 percent with rates increasing from 12.36 percent (of total payroll) to 16.93 percent," Adams wrote.

The tax hike is the maximum permitted under the Act 1 index set by the state. Anything higher and the board would have had to go to referendum in today's primary election, something Pottstown has never done since Act 1 was adopted in 2006.

Act one also provides for tax relief for approved homesteads. Pottstown has 4,348 approved homesteads, each of which will enjoy a $369.73 property tax reduction for 2013.
This house at W. Fourth and State streets, is for sale for $72,500, 
close to the median Pottstown assessment of $73,493.

The tax hike would increase property tax revenues by $671,815 and represents a .8940 millage increase.

For a home assessed at $73,493 -- the borough average -- the budget would raise property taxes by $65.70 in the coming school year.

In several signs of economic good news, for the first time in recent memory, the budget anticipates an increase in the borough's net real estate assessment of $948,200 to $813.3 million.

As a result, the same millage rate generates more income for the district, and ultimately, the borough and the county as well.

However, Adams noted that those increases will be offset by an anticipated decrease of $300,000 in delinquent tax collections -- this largely due to the "successful collection activities.

Another sign of economic improvement is the anticipated 13.5 percent increase in earned income revenues, a result of higher incomes among borough residents.

That means the district anticipates getting $1.8 million from earned income taxes in the coming school year.

Coupled with an increase in interest revenue from investments -- about $5,000 -- that means before any increase in real estate taxes is calculated, revenue from local sources is predicted to be up by about $27,250 -- a .09 percent increase.

In terms of revenue from the Commonwealth, the district would see a 2.19
The capitol building in Harrisburg
percent increase, representing $198,750, under the state budget proposed in February by Gov. Corbett, but considering the inaction by the state legislature on many of his proposals, this figure remains uncertain.

The governor's budget also eliminates all reimbursements to school district for charter school tuition, a cost of $1.4 million to the district.

Pottstown would also see a reduction of state funding for special education costs, under Corbett's budget. The state amount would cover less than 19 percent of the total funding needed to support special education expenses in Pottstown. This year's state subsidy covered "a little under 25 percent" of those costs, Adams wrote.

Nevertheless, Adams wrote that the "net impact to revenue" of state funding is an increase of $357,490 under Corbett's budget, including a $113,367 increase to pay for higher retirements costs which remains politically uncertain in Harrisburg.

The closing of Edgewood Elementary is anticipated to save
the district $437,000 in the next budget year.
The budget notes that the district will save $437,000 by closing Edgewood Elementary School, even though it will be occupied next year by students and staff from Rupert, during that building's renovations.

Other savings are $110,000 from retirements and $93,560 from personnel changes. They are offset by the potential for $180,000 in additional teachers, $120,000 for a special education supervisor for the secondary level, $144,000 for having an additional principal at the middle school, which next year will house all the district's fifth graders and $22,059 for another part-time nurse at the middle school.

Over all, the changes net out to a savings of $132,000, according to Adams.

The budget proposes a $500,000 contingency fund and a 1.6 percent increase in the athletic budget, which works out to $10,376.

1 comment:

  1. Polly Weand said in the article there is no frivolous spending in the district. Ha! Frivolous spending starts at the top of the administration and works it way down in management. What wasn't reported after last months school board meeting was that while management received pay raises, some support staff received increases, some no change and some support staff actually received pay cuts.