From today's Courier Times . . .
The board hopes to close a $7.3 million deficit to avoid a tax increase in July. The district's proposed budget calls for an average $265 increase in tax bills.
Zero. Zilch. Nada. That's the amount of tax increase the Neshaminy school board is shooting for as administrators attempt to tackle a $7.3 million deficit over the next few months. The board recently voted 7-1 to approve a preliminary 2010-11 budget, which is expected to be about $162.8 million. Richard Eccles voted no and William O'Connor wasn't present, officials said. But revenues are estimated to be about $155.5 million.
The $7.3 million gap would mean a 9.6 percent tax increase. For homeowners with an average assessment of $27,626 that would be a $265 hike. The average tax bill would increase from $4,199 to $4,464, said Joseph Paradise, business administrator. The value of 1 mill in Neshaminy is $736,526. The district's current millage rate is 152, Paradise said.
Under Act 1, the district's tax increase limit is 2.9 percent, or 4.4 mills, or $3.4 million. But the district also qualifies for two exceptions: $1.6 million in special education costs and $1.3 million for increasing contributions to the state pension fund, said Superintendent Lou Muenker. So, Neshaminy's legally allowed to raise taxes by 5.37 percent, or a total of $6.2 million, Muenker said. However, after passing the first-round spending plan, the school directors then unanimously approved a motion to at least try to pass a zero tax increase and use the Act 1 limit only as a last resort.
"This will not be an easy task and may require some extremely difficult decisions from the board and administration and the community," said Ritchie Webb. "If we stand together, work together, we will get through these very difficult financial times."
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