Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Pottsgrove Adopts $68.7M Budget With No Tax Hike

The Pottsgrove School Board unanimously adopted a $68.7 million budget for the 2020-2021 school year that will not raise property taxes.

The budget, which leaned heavily on reserves, keeps the millage rate at 38.102 mills.

In previous meetings, the school board had stressed the need to keep financial burdens on district taxpayers, many of whom may have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as minimal as possible.

Toward the end, the board also unanimously adopted to other motions designed to help taxpayers get their taxes paid.

The first adds a fourth period for those who want to pay their taxes on an installment plan. There will now be four payments between Aug. 15 and Nov. 15, each for one-quarter of the bill under the plan.

The board also decreased the penalty for late payments. Previously, those who paid their taxes after Oct. 31 were assessed a 10 percent penalty.

By unanimous vote, the school board lowered that penalty to 5 percent. Any taxes paid after Jan. 1, 2021 will be assessed a full 10 percent penalty.

There was even more good news in the school tax department.

Last month, Business Manager David Nester warned the board that the state had miscalculated the amount of money earned through gambling which funds property tax relief.

Due to lowered revenues from the coronavirus pandemic's closing of casinos, the shortfall threatened to add about $300 to the tax bill, even without a tax hike in the budget.

However, Nester reported that the short-term budget adopted by the state legislature used $300 million from the federal COVID-19 relief funds to cover the shortfall, so property tax bills will not go up this year.

Federal funding will also pay for the expansion of the "Schoology" management system for online learning used in grades five through 12, down into the K-5 level as well.

Adding 1,500 students to the system will increease the annual cost from $8,700 to $17,100, but it will be covered this year by federal funds designed to improve school safety and security, according to Nester.

"This was a complete team effort, with everyone from the board to the support staff," said Pottsgrove Superintendent William Shirk.

"We've maintained the integrity of our programs and staff for another year," said Shirk.

"We are constantly mindful of keeping academic classes strong, keeping athletics and extra-curriculars strong and trying to keep everyone intact," said School Board President Robert Lindgren. "This is one of the more difficult tasks we've had over the past several years, and it was a diffuclt task well done."

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