Bucks County Herald

Pennridge approves proposed final budget

For the third time in seven years, it appears as though property owners in the Pennridge School District will not see an increase in their real estate taxes.

On Monday night, the school board approved a proposed final budget for 2017-18 that holds the line on taxes despite adding staff members, absorbing a considerable increase in pension costs and making a significant investment in infrastructure technology.

School Board President Peter Yarnell thanked the administration for presenting a budget that provides additional resources for students while not increasing taxes on residents or businesses.

The budget’s projected revenues are $132.7 million (1.91 percent increase) and expenditures are $133.1 million (1.55 percent increase). Rather than increasing taxes, the board plans to allocate $337,000 from fund balance to make up the difference.

Among the budget highlights:

Salaries remain flat at about $58 million. The budget calls for six additional teachers, one additional social worker and one additional special education supervisor. The new staffers will be offset by approximately 20 retirees.

The district’s costs for self-insured health care benefits will drop by $650,000.

State mandated retirement costs will increase $1.8 million to a total of $19 million a year.

The district will spend about $2.3 million this summer to replace and add new security cameras in all buildings, install a VOIP phone system and perform electrical upgrades to technology closets.

Under the state’s Act 1 Index, the board could raise property taxes by up to 2.5 percent. That would add about $104 to the bill for a property at the median assessed value of $30,769.

Superintendent Jacqueline A. Rattigan credits previous boards’ history of being willing to take necessary steps for placing the district on solid financial footing. She also appreciates the fact that the current board is adamant about maintaining staff and programs without burdening taxpayers with an increase.

“As a district, we do what we need to do without being extravagant,” said Dr. Rattigan. “It is our goal for students and staff to have the resources that they need to be successful.”

The proposed final budget will be available for review online and at the District Administration Office for 30 days. The board is expected to adopt the final budget for 2017-18 on June 19.

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