Pottsgrove Board OKs 1.5% Tax Hike, But It’s Not ‘Final’

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – A proposed Pottsgrove School District final 2022-’23 budget of more than $71.4 million dollars, carrying a proposed tax increase of 1.5 percent, was unanimously approved Tuesday (May 10, 2022) by the district school board. Board President Al Leach quickly issued a caution after the vote, though: the most important word in the first sentence is “proposed.”

And a second word, “final,” doesn’t mean it’s so, he proclaimed. Hopefully, Leach and fellow board members indicated, things will change for the better before the end of June.

The president’s caution is not new. Pottsgrove and every other school board across the state issues the same disclaimer every year. It’s because Pennsylvania regulations require that a “proposed final” budget must be accepted at least 30 days before a final “final budget” is approved, Business Administrator Ron Linke explains.

Between now and June 30, however, some board members say they will be looking to trim costs even further, with an eye toward a tax hike of just 1 percent. They also carefully noted they can’t make any promises to that end. The state mandates a budget be adopted by June’s end; the board has tentatively scheduled a final adoption vote for its June 14 meeting, 32 days away.

A copy of the proposed final budget is available for download from the district website, here.

“We are still working on it,” Leach said of the budget. “I want the public to understand we haven’t stopped. We’re still trying to get lower, of course, as tax dollars matter to everybody, especially now with so many things going up,” he added.

“We all understand we have to move up a little bit,” board Vice President Tin McIntyre suggested, “so we don’t have years of nothing and all of a sudden a large jump. I would obviously love to see it lower, but the trajectory so far is moving in that direction. So I’m pleased with the fact that we are coming down a little bit, and hopefully it will continue in that trend.”

Linke’s predecessor, the now-retired David Nester, pleasantly but insistently pushed board members each year to raise tax rates by about 3 percent to both keep up with rising costs and ensure the district had sufficient money on hand to tackle repairs and other capital projects. Three percent seemed mild by comparison; years earlier, a board president no longer living in the district once publicly declared he wasn’t satisfied unless taxes increased 5 percent annually.

Coincidentally, the board this January received from outgoing district Director of Facilities Jeffrey Cardwell a highly praised and extensive 10-year plan of needed or anticipated building and property fixes and upgrades that could cost Pottsgrove roughly $5 million annually. Among dozens of projects included in the list are nine scheduled to be performed during the next 12 months.

The board’s budget vote did not include that of director Patti Grimm, who was unable to attend the meeting. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for May 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Pottsgrove High School on Kauffman Road.

Photo from a screenshot taken by The Post from The PCTV Network’s board meeting broadcast