Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pottsgrove Inches Toward Zero

The Pottsgrove School Board, which devoted its entire meeting Tuesday night to budget discussion, appeared to inch closer to not raising taxes in the coming school year.

After adopted a proposed final $64.3 million budget two weeks ago that would raises taxes by 2.4 percent, but which board member insisted "means nothing," they got down to brass tacks Tuesday.

The upshot of the meeting was that by guesstimating that:

A) the additional $800,000 or more the district would receive under Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed budget would, by a more conservative estimate, come closer to $200,000 by the time it exits the Republican-controlled General Assembly;

B) that taking another $200,000 from the nearly $400,000 the district received in delayed state reimbursement for the Ringing Rocks Elementary School construction project and,

C) Taking full advantage of the $400,000-plus in savings from  an unprecedented 11 teacher retirements and another savings of equal measure from a second good year in health care claims;

The board could whittle the 2.4 percent property tax hike down to .5 percent.

Board member Rick Rabintowitz led the charge for finding another $200,000 in line-by-line budget savings that could get the tax hike down to zero.

He also argued that there were enough major state initiatives in play -- property tax reform, pension reform, charter school funding reform -- that  a zero tax hike budget could be achieved without putting the district on a slippery slope of pilfering its reserve funds for short-term gain.

No vote was taken, but the path toward a lowered tax hike -- particularly given Business Manager David Nester's tentative endorsement of the path -- seems likely to veteran school board and budget observers.

Here are the Tweets from last night's meeting.

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