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Pottsgrove Budget Final; Taxes Climbing 1.9 Percent

Pottsgrove Budget Final; Taxes Climbing 1.9 PercentPOTTSTOWN PA – Real estate taxes levied by the Pottsgrove School District will rise 1.9 percent during the 2014-2015 academic year, its Board of School Directors agreed Tuesday (June 17, 2014), in a 6-1 vote to approve a final budget of $62.87 million.

The total includes the district’s “digitial learning environment” or one-to-one initiative, which intends to put a mobile computing device into the hands of every high school student next year.

As a result, the tax bill on the district’s average home, valued at $120,000, is estimated to increase by about $83. With the new tax rate now set at $37.50 (37.5095 mills) on every $1,000 of assessed value, the total school tax on the same house will amount to $4,500.

An employed home owner in Lower, Upper or West Pottsgrove townships – the municipalities that make up the district – who earns an hourly wage of $20 will work 225 hours, or more than 5½ 40-hour weeks, to cover that cost. The tax bills usually are scheduled to go out by July 1, with full payment due by no later than Dec. 31.

From a historical perspective, district taxes during three previous years have climbed:

  • 2.31% in 2013-2014, or $36.81 per $1,000 of value, for an “average” annual increase of $99 and an “average” total tax bill of $4,417, on a budget of $61.35 million;
  • 2.8% in 2012-2013, or $35.98 per $1,000 of value, for an “average” annual increase of $118  and an “average” total tax bill of $4,318, on a budget of $58.9 million; and
  • 1.8% in 2011-2012, or $34.99 per $1,000 of value, for an “average” annual increase of $74 and an “average” total tax bill of $4,200, on a budget of $57.32 million.

Director Rick Rabinowitz cast the sole dissenting vote against both the Pottsgrove budget and one-to-one, contending the tax increase was too much for property owners to bear and should have been at 1 percent, or about half the approved amount. Directors Matt Alexander and Dee Gallion were absent and did not vote.

Given state-imposed budget and tax limitations, and subsequent adjustments, Business Administrator David Nester said the district could have imposed a tax hike of up to 3.65 percent. Board President Justin Valentine claimed directors and administrators had done a good job of making enough cuts to bring the proposed increase down to 2 percent, but Tuesday he asked for and won a tenth-of-a-percentage-point more to make a statement to taxpayers.

The added tenth represented a potential deficit of $38,000, to which Director Patti Grimm objected. Rabinowitz, however, noted the district had enjoyed budget surpluses in each of several recent years and was unlikely to incur any deficit spending next year. Nester, in a separate discussion, conceded Pottsgrove also will end with a surplus this year, possibly as much as $100,000.

Valentine acknowledged earlier criticism of the budget process, vented primarily on social media outlets, that charged the district was failing to live within its means and should operate more like a for-profit business. He said it’s difficult, however, “to tighten the belt even further without hurting our children’s education.”

Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ June 17 meeting):

Other coverage:

Related (to the Pottsgrove schools’ 2014-’15 budget):

Photo from Google Images

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