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UD School Board Discusses Proposed Final Budget, with 4.25 tax increase

With a 4.25 percent tax increase, the early retirement incentive, and cuts across the district, Upper Dublin School Board has been presented with a balanced budget for 2012-13.

The Upper Dublin School Board looked at what will be the proposed final budget for the school district on Monday night.

Brenda Bray, the district’s Business Administrator, noted that the early retirement incentive savings have not been folded into the budget yet. Thomas Sigafoos, Director of Human Resources, told the board that ten teachers took advantage of the early retirement incentive offered by the district and they expect to need to replace 5.4 of those teachers. The savings just in salaries will be approximately $499,762, according to Sigafoos.

A substantial increase in revenue during the 2011-12 school year came from the collection of delinquent real estate taxes, adding over $808,000 to the budget. For the 2012-13 budget, the administration has budgeted an increase in admission tickets from sporting events after seeing a significant increase in admission tickets this year.

The total estimated revenue for the 2012-13 budget comes to $85,681,402. The budget is in the black, and there is approximately $494,000 in the fund balance, as well as $152,288 budgeted in budgetary reserves.

The largest part of the budget, 41 percent, and over $35,000,000 is in regular education. Special education and debt service, both 15 percent of the overall budget, are the next two largest portions.

Bray added that salaries and benefit make up 70 percent of the overall budget.

Art Levinowitz, asked the administration to, once again, look at the budget and consider a reduction in the 4.25 percent tax increase and how a lower tax increase would affect programs at the district.

Joseph Chmielewski, President of the Board, said the administration budgeted differently for 2012-13 and pulled as much out of expenditures as they could to keep expenditures and fund balance use low.

“If there’s deep cuts to be made, we’ll see them next year,” said Chmielewski.

He recommended holding onto the 4.25 percent increase this year to help balance the budget for next year.

Michael Resnick said with special education costing one-third of regular education and the limited number of students who receive that education, it’s not worth giving up the 1.41 percent exception that the district applied for.

Margaret Barrett echoed Resnick’s sentiments, “These are our kids in Upper Dublin.”

The Board will take a vote on the proposed final budget at their May 14 meeting.

Concerned Resident May 09, 2012 at 12:41 AM
1. Art Levinowitz - thank you for your continued efforts encouraging analysis for potential ways to consider reducing the tax rate 2. Does anyone have a history of the past 10 years of the tax rates? Am interested if history indicates there is hope at some point we may have lower rates or if history tells a different story
E Dubya May 09, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Reading about continued tax and spending increases at the School District and Township level is very worrisome. The New York Times had a nice piece on Montclair, NJ which has growing similarities to our Upper Dublin situation...The arguments used by the SD and Twp Commissioner against holding the line on spending and making strategic choices are mirrored nearly word for word in this article. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/08/nyregion/in-montclair-elections-cause-town-to-re-examine-itself.html?smid=fb-share
danny roturra May 09, 2012 at 11:44 PM
mission almost accomplished...the folks on the school board deem it a moral imperative to increase taxes annually. the piece fails to mention the compound effect on the increase(s) since they have been constant. the board refuses to make hard choices, i.e.cuts, in their quest for being all things to all people. so, in other words, the taxpayers make cuts so they don't have to..moreover, these do gooders, like the rest of the political class, freely spend other peoples money. i have no doubt that there are a plethora of programs that can be cut. if select parents object, THEY can pay for them. i did...
SMDH May 13, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Danny, instead of complaining how about specifying what you would cut? Where are your educational priorities? and most importantly since you think the board is wrong then why not help out the community by explaining what you think they should do?
Peter May 13, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I think making cuts to the school decreases the quality of our district, doesn't it? Won't we have lower property values and less people wanting to move into the district? I think the school is the centerpiece of our district and cutting from the school's budget can only hurt it on the rankings and reputation.
Joe May 13, 2012 at 07:30 PM
@Peter: The cost of living here is a combination of the cost of housing plus taxes. At some point housing prices will level off or decline as taxes rise and the total cost is unaffordable. Rhetorically speaking, ask any realtor about a suburban school district and they'll tell you it's great. Upper Dublin, Springfield, Wissahickon, HH, Central Bucks, Centennial??? The School District just borrowed $2,5million w/o our approval (they in fact did not need it) for capital expenditures that really should be funded in the annual budget. They refused to look at the effect of lower increases as suggested by Drs. Levinowitz and Ludwig. The board is in a difficult position as they basically gave the house away with the last teacher's contract. Salaires represent a large portion of the budget. Perhaps it's time to look at larger class sizes. Is 17 a realistic # to have in elementary school?? 20-22 in Middle and High School?? Could we more effective with 30 students per class and an aide where needed?? Just sayin.
Peter May 18, 2012 at 02:52 AM
what do you mean "capital expenditures" is that like teacher salaries? As a recent graduate, I know I would rather be in a class of 20-22 and I would want my kids to be in smaller classes as well. I think that's a sentiment most of the community shares, which is why they keep voting in the board members that favor public education over lowering taxes

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