Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Goal is no tax increase this year

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."

You can read the complete article by
clicking here.


I Must Be Living in Jersey said...

I'm glad you are back Mr. O. I got so bored that I've taken to posting on the Courier's blog but those people aren't any fun.
I'm all for cutting costs, and if it takes outsourcing to bring our costs to a more reasonable place, then so be it. But while doing that can't we put something back into the classrooms? You brought up elementary computers as an issue in the past. Maybe the board can do something to actually make Neshaminy competitive with other districts when it comes to computer education.

acs said...

William, I assume you would have been the 9th vote on the resolution to have a zero tax increase?
The key here is outsourcing the support staff and it seems very difficult for directors to vote against saving taxpayers $30M when a new NESPA contract will maybe save much less over the same period?
Welcome back.

William O'Connor said...

To be clear, ACS, the resolution was a goal to limit to a zero increase, and yes I would have voted in favor of that. However, for the sake of complete disclosure, please understand that I will vote accordingly on a final budget so long as it doesn't cut vital student programs.

What you said about outsourcing is true, but the Board remains committed to ongoing, good faith negotiations. However, the clock is ticking.

Thanks for the welcome back ACS and Jersey, but I'm back on a plane and out of the country in less than two weeks. On a positive note, I've really racked up those frequent flier miles!

TFR1984 said...

The board has been way too generous with its time and the support union. Mindy Anderson doesn't care if you outsource every job but hers so why should you people care? Just do it already so our kids don't have to read in the paper that programs might be cut.
Then when you have done that, go back and outsource the secretary jobs. I can't wait to see the look on her face when nobody comes to her rescue.

acs said...

Thanks. I think stating the "goal" in writing is key for the board to do the right thing. I appreciate it.
There may be some feeling due to my firm stance in this blog on the unions and the excess cost that I am solely focused on reducing cost. This is not true. I want NSD to be the best SD in PA. The fact that these union contracts are so onerous to the district's financial wellbeing has hampered this goal and now threatens to further prevent us from investing in and protecting eductional programs. If these contracts are allowed to persist the best NSD can do is tread water and the more likely scenario is it deteriorates. It is all on the NFT in the end. There are killing the goose that laid their golden eggs.Therefore outsourcing is now the only safe answer. The union should realized that pigs get fat....hogs get slaughtered :)

time4change said...

I am really sorry but I can not accept that my taxes going up over two hundred just for school that is not including county taxes. I heard a fireman on the news today say that their services will be only 35.00 more a month for the average citizen. Peco is saying their rates are going higher. I know my heath costs will be higher last year they went up 30% to 12000.00 if that happens again that means 3600 more for just that add that to everything else like gas, oil and food and the fact most places are holding salaries still. This board needs to stop the spending while not taking anything else away from the kids that is educational for all students and something where all students can join. We understand that we fund the school but why is it that neshaminy spends soo much per student compared to others that just as good of schools and some that some people would say that are better schools. And some of those school are from richer areas....

Sounds like it might be time to make all the private school go on one bus like bristol does some of the private school kids get on the bus over 2 hours early where we see two different buses pick up for queen in the same section they can all walk to one location now....

Wing Man said...

Do you realize what you just said T4C? All of your costs are going up so you expect the school district to keep its costs down. Don't you understand that if your costs are going up then so are the district's? Even if the district was run like a disciplined commercial business, it could not avoid cost increases because of inflation alone.

If you expect the district to cut its expense despite inflationary increases, then you in essence are calling for cuts in education. You can't say cut costs but keep programs. You can't have it both ways.

Why is Neshaminy more expensive than other area districts, you ask? That's what all these labor negotiations are about and the board is trying to do something about it. If they reduce labor costs through outsourcing and eliminating top-tier free benefits for employees, our costs will be more like surrounding districts.

csld said...

WingMan you do realize that the free benefit package that you speak of is only given to more than less than half of the classifications that are being outsourced.For instance the custodians are not all fulltime so there are custodians that dont get health benefits.The bus drivers are not all fulltimers so their are bus drivers that dont get health benefits.The food services workers are not full time workers at all so none of them get health benefits at all and they are selfsupporting so they get no taxpayers money...So for you and the others to believe that by outsourcing these services will make Neshaminy a better or equally better as the other district then I am sorry but I do not believe this.Taxes will continue to go up and this outsorcing will not save the tax payers a dime.I am a tax payer and an employee and I dont expect by outsourcing my job or other will make my taxes go down.

Wing Man said...

Yes I get it CSLD, the majority of support workers do not get benefits. But the ones who do have a benefits package we cannot afford so outsourcing will save us lots of money.

Here is what I don't understand. If the majority of you don't get benefits then why haven't you demanded that your union settles. You write on this blog as if you want sympathy and understanding, but how can you ask this of us when you all won't stand up for yourselves?

JS said...

csld, I'd have to disagree with the custodial workers, at least 75% are full time. All the day time ones are and a vast majority of the evening.

I believe it's the same for bus drivers (but probably closer to half). Most of the part time positions are in the cafeteria and hall aid positions.

acs said...

We have been over and over the ground you want to til here. Sorry but it really is not relevant any longer who has benefits and who does not. The bottom line now is $30M savings over 5 years. Taxes will not go down of course but NSD tax increases will slow if not abate. And thank God since mandated PSERS tax increases will start to hit us hard next year.
The savings will allow the district to maintain our current educational standards and perhaps improve and invest.
My understanding in looking very closely at the labor costs in new budget is that settling with the NESPA we save the district very little over the next 3 years.
As we all know the excessive cost in the district remains in with NFT. Unfortunately it is obvious they are waiting for all services to be outsourced before even discussing a compromise with the strategy of using the savings from outsourcing to fund their outrageous demands. However, the NFT has lost their moment if they ever had one, since they will have exactly zero community support when everyone finally understands what PSERS is and what it means to them personally. That is when real reform in the ridiculous teacher and public worker union contracts will finally start to happen.
For now the NSD SB needs to continue to move full speed ahead with the focus on a zero tax increase and zero impact to academics. Since there are no longer any other options left to cut but educational programs, that cerainly means outsourcing is a reality. Good news is if you are a part timer you will have a job wiht same pay or better and a new boss. The people with the big problem are the people with full benefits that are way over paid in relation to market rates.
They will take a cut or be cut.

csld said...

I totally agree with all of you the support staff union should of settled a long time ago.Wingman many partimers have asked our union to settle but it fell on deaf ears.You are totally wrong if you think I am asking for sympathy and understanding from anyone,I am not the bread winner in my family so in a sense this whole outsourcing will not effect me as it will other Neshaminy employees. I know that the district will save alot of monies by outsourcing jobs but again I do not believe that my taxes will decrease.
Acs I dont know about my pay staying the same or better we will see what will be will be.But if I were to believe what most of you say I wont have to worry about that because my taxes will be going down or stablizing right.