POTTSTOWN >> If Pottstown School District Business Manager Linda Adams succeeds in the direction she was given at a recent school board meeting, she will deliver the third consecutive budget that does not raise taxes.
But it won’t be easy.
According to a brief overview of the preliminary budget she offered to the board on March 16, Pottstown is facing a budget gap of more than $1.5 million.
That analysis showed the single largest cause of the increased expenses is the health insurance increases faced by the district, $887,000. Following in a close second is the $425,700 in increased in salaries to teachers as outlined in the second-year of the three-year contract adopted last year.
The third largest factor to rising costs is the increase to the district’s share of the cost of pensions — $387,000.
The cumulative impact of the contract is $1.4 million over three years, School Board Solicitor Stephen Kalis confirmed last year.
On the plus side of the equation, the district is expecting to receive an additional $242,404 increase in basic education funding from the state, although it expects special education funding to drop by just over $7,000.
To close the ensuing $1,517,908 gap between revenues and expenditures, the district could raise property taxes as high as 3.6 percent, adding another 1.4145 mills to the current millage rate of 39.2522.
However, perhaps driven by the fact that the state currently ranks Pottstown in the number three spot for “local tax effort” in all of Pennsylvania, the school board has set Adams on a different path.
Instead, Adams was instructed by the board to cover half the $1.5 million gap — $750,000 — using money from reserve funds. For the other half, she was instructed to look for savings, cuts, or non-tax revenues to cover the remaining budget deficit.
School board members were invited to make suggestions on methods of accomplishing those savings at the upcoming school board meeting of Monday, March 20 in the high school cafeteria.
Adams will report back to the school board’s finance committee on those efforts at the committee’s Thursday, May 11 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. and will be held in the conference room of the administration building at Beech and Penn streets.
It is open to the public.