Perkiomen Valley's Approved Preliminary Budget Still Shows Tax Hike, Shortfall
More work lies ahead for district; no figures are binding at this stage of the process
The Perkiomen Valley School Board unanimously approved a preliminary version of the 2012-13 general fund budget during the business meeting Monday, Dec. 9, at the high school.
The current version of the budget shows an 8.35 percent tax increase (2.39 mills), which would translate to a $429 hike (about $35 a month) on a home assessed at $180,000. The vote was held in order to comply with Act I’s required timeline; it does not bind the district to the budget now.
“We don’t intend to ultimately end up where we will end tonight,” said Business Administrator Jim Weaver.
The latest version of the preliminary budget has changed little since December, Weaver said. There is still a near-$5-million shortfall.
The expenditures figures are the same, he said. Last month, Perkiomen Valley Patch reported that expenditures have increased 5 percent to nearly $92 million, and revenue sources equal about $87 million. Increased expenses include a 3 percent hike in salaries (about $1.13 million), benefits, transportation (2 percent, "by contract," Weaver said), and in special education (6 percent).
The revenue has increased a bit, Weaver said, thanks to real estate taxes. Those numbers could change again, as the district is awaiting the outcome of “a large assessment appeal” on one property.
Should that assessment not go in the district’s favor, there is a “worst case scenario” built into the budget presentation, Weaver said.
State funding is another still-undetermined factor in PV’s budget; Gov. Tom Corbett will reveal his budget proposals next month, on Feb. 13.
Other factors that could potentially impact the budget include the renovations at South Elementary School, possible additional savings from self-funded health insurance and the use of exclusions and allowance exceptions.
At the request of board member Ann Mantey, Weaver’s presentation Monday night included a slide with a bar graph that charted the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s tax base, exceptions that PVSD could have and/or did use, and the actual tax set by the general fund budget. The only time the district used exceptions was in 2007-08, according to the graph. With the use of exceptions, tax rates could have dramatically increased without a referendum, Weaver said. For example, with the use of exceptions for this year’s budget, taxes could have gone up 4.60 percent from the previous year (the final tax hike was 1.60 percent). The increase could have been 9.64 percent in 2007-08 and 11.11 percent in 08-09 (it was instead kept it at the base), according to the presentation.
Work will continue on the budget. Officials are also considering having another town hall meeting, but it may not come to pass.