Daniel Boone School Board members tentatively agreed on April 26 to a 2017-18 budget of $55,812,579 with no tax increase.
All 500 public school districts in Pennsylvania must approve final budgets by June 30.
Board members determined during their budget meeting that the 4.5 percent increase included in the district’s Feb. 13 preliminary budget will not be necessary to balance the budget.
Superintendent James P. Harris said the budget includes two retirements and one staff furlough.
Business Manager Loren Small estimates that the district’s ending fund balance in the 2017-18 budget will be $2,137,936.
“What we’re showing is that we feel comfortable not raising taxes this year,” said board member Jeff Scott.
“We can’t justify a tax increase when we have a surplus,” said board member Carol Beitz after the meeting.
The board approved on Feb. 13 a preliminary budget of $56,336,312, increasing the real estate millage rate from the current rate of 29.7 mills to 31.09 mills.
Property owners who now pay $2,970 for every $100,000 of assessed value, would have paid $3,109.
Small’s budget projections through 2020-2021 estimate that the ending fund balance from the 2018-19 budget will be $845,864, possibly requiring a half mill tax increase.
The previous estimate for the 2020-2021 ending fund balance was a negative $6 million.
Member Rich Martino said the purpose of the April 26 budget meeting was to address the possibility of a $6 million budget deficit in 2020-2021.
After running new numbers, Small estimated a negative deficit of $2,882,498 for 2020-2021.
“We have enough [future] options that we don’t need to act today [by raising taxes now],” said Beitz.
She said future options include selling an elementary building, possible rents in an elementary building, a 2017 bond swap that would net $650,000, retirements, staff furloughs, and future assessed value on the Birdsboro Power LLC.
The power plant is expected to go online in June 2019.
“We can’t put it in the five-year budget plan until we see it in the county’s assessment office,” said Small.
He is estimating a first year assessment at $300,000, $400,000 the second year, and $500,000 in year three.
“The power plant assessed value could be double,” said Beitz.
“These are good ‘unknowns;’ and the numbers are the worst case scenario. Mr. Small estimates them ultra conservatively, and is estimating on the right side.”
“There are no program cuts, we will continue to fund the capital reserve fund, but the news is that we’re balanced this year on a hypothetical tax increase next year.”
“This is responsible budgeting for the buildings. I’m very proud of this budget, our work, and our staff.”
“I can tell my taxpayers that the district is run as efficiently as possible.”
Board member cited the major budget drivers as salaries -- at nearly $22 million (down almost $1 million from the 2016-17 budget), a $500,000 healthcare increase to a total of $4.4 million, and a $300,000 increase in retirement costs to a total of $7.2 million.
“Our entire issue is PSERS (the state’s Public School Employees’ Retirement System) annual percentage increase,” said member Connor Kurtz.
Member David Rathgeb said another driver of the budget is class sizes.
Harris said kindergarten through first grade class sizes will be 20 students, third grade will be 23 students, and that both are within the district’s policy of 20 to 24 students.
Fourth and fifth grade classes will have 24 to 25 students per class.