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UPSD Proposed Final Budget Includes Tax Hike to Cover New Hires
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Approval of Upper Perkiomen School District's 2022-23 proposed final budget includes a tax hike. Last week, the school board voted unanimously to impose a 2.5 percent millage rate increase.

            President Judith Maginnis described the increase as necessary to cover the costs of the addition of six new positions. She described those expenses as continual following the May 12 regular meeting.

            The members will rely on a transfer from the district's fund balance to cover the remaining deficit, according to Maginnis. The $72.361 million budget, which includes a 1.34 percent tax increase, is expected to cost the median Montgomery County property owner an additional $54.47. Similarly, Berks County property owners will owe an extra $41.78, according to Dan Direso, the district's business administrator.

            According to Maginnis, the additional real estate revenue is necessary to cover the long-term expense of creating the new positions, estimated at $460,148 in salaries and benefits. After the meeting, she expressed hope that consensus will remain among the members approving a hike included in the draft budget. The district's finance committee has directed administrators to continue to fine-tune the projected expenses.

            "We're all very cognizant about raising taxes," the board president said. "We're going to need that money on a continual basis."

            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 3.48 percent tax increase facilitated by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) ratio. The 2021-22 budget held the line on the tax and millage rates.

            The proposed budget calls for the addition of a learning coach/elementary gifted teacher, a student assistance counselor, a board certified behavior analyst, an administrative assistant for the district's human resources department and other current employee adjustments and staffing additions due to enrollment, according to Direso's presentation.

            Administrators started the budget process with a request to create 10 new positions. In March, Direso's presentation called for adding a learning support teacher, a learning coach, an elementary gifted teacher, a student assistance counselor, two board certified behavioral analysts, an HR administrative assistant, along with other current employee adjustments and staffing additions at a total cost of $957,000.

            The draft budget calls for transferring $3.417 million from the district's reserve fund to cover the remaining shortfall. The district is expected to end the current school year with a projected fund balance of $18.432 million, according to the business administrator.

            The board will vote on the budget at its June 9 meeting. The budget will be available for public inspection at the Education Center, located on East Buck Road in Upper Hanover, among other places prior to the final vote.

            The board's Finance Committee will continue to scrutinize the numbers, according to Melanie Cunningham, who chairs the committee. She invited the public to participate in a finance committee meeting a few days before the board votes again.






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