POTTSTOWN PA – Property owners in the Pottsgrove School District are guaranteed to see no more than a 3.1-percent increase in their district real estate tax rate for the 2016-2017 academic year, the Board of School Directors officially promised Tuesday (Dec. 1, 2015). Given the mood of board members, the likelihood is strong that a tax hike – if any – might be far less.
There’s a long way to go, however, between now and budget approval next June, Business Manager David Nester reminded directors. Their coming spending plan “marathon” of many months, as he described it, includes a raft of unknowns.
The Pennsylvania Legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf have yet to agree on a long-overdue budget of their own. That means Pottsgrove remains uncertain of how much future revenue it can depend on from the state. Expenses, on the other hand, are already estimated. So when a tentative district budget is publicly revealed Jan. 7 deadline, Nester cautioned, it is sure to project “a large deficit.”
The board’s binding decision to adopt the maximum tax rate increase allowed for the district by the state, known as its Act 1 Index, was done with the acknowledgment that it may be required to severely limit expenses if state funding doesn’t equal or somewhat exceed that of last year. That possibility seems unlikely, Nester noted, but not improbable.
Tuesday’s agreement also removes some related deadline pressure, and allows the board more time to make reasoned decisions on expenses. “It avoids the greatest number of logistical headaches going forward,” Nester said.
Newly elected board President Rick Rabinowitz observed the last two district budgets also have hewed to the index rate or substantially lower, and he was pleased directors volunteered to “constrain ourselves again.” Also happy was returning director John Rossi, who said agreeing to the tax increase limit forced board members to examine spending with reductions in mind.
Not quite as pleased was incoming director William Parker. He sought to have the board agree to direct administrators to offer a proposed “zero-tax-increase” budget, to which items or programs could be added at its discretion. His motion failed to draw a second in support, but Rabinowitz said he recognized the value of the idea. He simply preferred to see several different budget scenarios from which directors could make choices, the president said.
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Dec. 1 meeting):
- Pottsgrove Sets Next Tax Hike At 3.1% Or Less
- Pottsgrove School Board Inducts New Members
- Re-Organization, Audit On Pottsgrove Agenda
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