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Tax Increase Likely in UPSD's 2022-23 Budget
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2022-03-30

            Final approval of the budget for the upcoming school year in the Upper Perkiomen School District could include a tax increase. An initial presentation of the 2022-23 draft budget includes a $4.341 million deficit.

           District officials are likely to recommend a tax increase to the school board, according to Daniel C. Direso, the board's business administrator. He said the budget does not include more than $4 million worth of "fluff."

            "I don't think it has that kind of wiggle room," Direso said after last week's school board workshop meeting.

            During a presentation, the business administrator presented the details of the initial draft budget, which includes $67.981 million in projected revenue and $72.323 million in projected expenses. Maintaining the current millage would cost the district $441,456 in lost revenue based on a rate set by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB), whose primary function is to determine the aggregate market value of taxable real property in each political subdivision and school district throughout Pennsylvania.

            Increasing millage rates by 4.2 percent, the highest rate allowed under the district's Act 1 adjusted index, would generate $1.403 million. Maintaining the current 25.2278 millage rate, would reduce the amount of real estate taxes collected by the district, according to a slide of millage calculations. Even with a one percent tax increase, property owners would see a small decrease in their bills, according to Direso's presentation.

            The proposed budget calls for the addition of at least eight new employees at a projected cost of $957,000. They include a Learning Support Teacher, a Learning Coach, an Elementary Gifted Teacher, a Student Assistance Counselor, two Board Certified Behavioral Analysts and a Human Resources Administrative Assistant, according to the presentation.

            Administrators have budgeted $350,000 fuel costs, $100,000 more than the current school year, according to Direso. He described the figure as arbitrary, adding that the district is working with the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit to lock in certain rates.

           "It [$350,000] may not be enough," the business administrator said. "It's all a gamble."

            The continued migration of students to charter schools will cost the school $1.3 million, according to Direso. He said next year's total is expected to reach 190, up from the pre-pandemic level of 110.

            The presentation also identified five facilities upgrades at a total cost of $466,000. They include improving the varsity softball field ($203,000), security upgrades ($165,000) installing retractable baskets in the high school gymnasium ($45,000), a public address system at Hereford Elementary and ($35,000) X-Lab Ductwork ($18,000).

            Maintaining the current millage rate, or even increasing it by one percent, would reduce the tax bill for property owners in Montgomery and Berks counties. A two-percent increase, expected to raise $546,547, would cost the median owner in Montgomery County an additional $34.54. Berks County property owners would pay an extra $27.

            The district's millage rate has remained at its current level since the board voted to approve a 2.8 percent increase as part of the 2019-20 budget. The following year, approval included a a 3.48 percent tax increase facilitated by the STEB ratio. The 2021-22 budget held the line on the tax and millage rates.

            Following a discussion at the April 18 Finance Committee meeting, the members are expected to adopt the Proposed Final Budget on May 12. Final committee adjustments can be made May 16 and June 13 before the board's scheduled final adoption vote on June 16.


 

 

 

 

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