Tuesday, October 03, 2023


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News Article
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UPSD Board Approves 2022-23 Budget with Tax Increase
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Upper Perkiomen's School Board granted final approval for the budget for the upcoming school year with a tax increase. One of the two members who voted against the $72.353 million budget last week expressed opposition to his own proposal.

            Keith McCarrick expressed specific opposition to a 2.5 percent millage rate increase necessary to cover the creation of seven new positions, a proposal he claims to have introduced as a member of the Finance Committee. Immediately prior to the vote, McCarrick expressed a preference for not imposing any tax hikes on residents.

            "In my heart, I know we should keep the tax increase at zero," he said prior to casting a vote during the June 16 regular meeting.  "I have to say that."

            Raeann Hofkin also voted against the motion to approve the budget, which calls for a 1.35 percent tax increase for property owners. It also calls for the utilization of $3.026 million from the district's reserve fund to cover a projected budget deficit. Members Dana Hipszer and Emily McCormick did not attend the meeting.

            The following day, Hofkin expressed her preference for implementing a lesser tax increase. In multiple text messages, she explained that some tax hike was necessary to fund the new positions, a learning coach/elementary gifted teacher, a student assistance counselor, a board-certified behavioral analyst, an HR administrative assistant, a director of transportation and registration, a registration and transportation administrative assistant and a communication specialist, as well as wage enhancements for paraprofessional, custodial, and food service employees. However, she described the 2.5 percent millage rate increase as excessive.

            The tax increase – which will cost the median Montgomery County property owner an additional $54.79, compared to $42.02 for those in Berks County -- is expected to generate an additional $463,250. A presentation from Dan Direso, the district's business administrator, estimates the total cost of the personnel upgrades at $745,890 ($437,961 for salaries, $307,961 for benefits).

            The district projects a $162,889 surplus at the end of the 2021-22 school year, leaving it with an overall projected fund balance of $18.102 million. Following the budgeted use of funds during the school year, the district is projecting a fund balance of $15.075 million. Hofkin identified the projected surplus for the just-ended school year as evidence that the board is overtaxing its residents.

            "I have an accounting degree and understand how to read financial reports," she wrote. "This is my 11th budget with the district where there is a projected deficit, yet the last 10 years ended in a significant surplus. Any year with a huge surplus tells me we are overtaxing the community, and that's just wrong."

            The budget calls for $466,000 in facilities upgrades. They include the installation of a drainage system at the varsity softball field ($203,000), security upgrades ($165,000) the purchase of new baskets at the high school ($45,000), a new public address system at Hereford Elementary ($35,000) and X-Lab Ductwork ($18,000).

            The district's millage rate had 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.






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