At the July 3 Special Action meeting of the Upper Moreland School Board, board member Brian Davis shared news about the recently approved state budget, and its impact with Pennsylvania school districts.
In Upper Moreland, that impact, in the form of state fund returns, is significant.
“It turns out, we have some amount of money in favor of our district,” Davis, the board's treasurer, said. “We have $243,052 that is beyond that of what we have conservatively budgeted.”
Davis suggested that the board reconsider its recently passed 2012 – 2013 budget to include the state returns. According to Davis, if incorporated into the budget, the current 1.68-percent tax increase would be reduced to 1.04 percent.
According to Michael Braun, the school district’s business manager, this would mean that taxpayers would save $21.86 a year or $1.82 a month, based on the average assessment value.
A motion was passed to re-open the school budget to incorporate the state returns. Through this motion, the tax bill distribution would have to be postponed from the intended July 6 date to no later than July 13. With this postponement, the state returns reduction would be increased to 1.05 percent, as the school district would have to consider the costs related to reprinting the new tax bills.
Furthermore, re-opening the budget would rely on the approval of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).
According to Dr. Robert Milrod, school district superintendent, the district will contact the PDE on July 5 to confirm the motion’s legality. If the PDE disapproves, then the state returns will not be incorporated into the 2012 – 2013 school budget, and tax bill distribution will go as previously planned.
School board member Al DerMovesian expressed reservations at re-opening the school budget. Acknowledging the potential impact on taxpayers, DerMovesian stated with the budget already in place, the state returns may better help with unforeseen shortfalls or expenses next year.
“My thought is that we don’t know what’s happening in the next two months, let alone six months to a year,” DerMovisian said.
Braun said that the budget does consider deficits for some areas, to which DerMovisian added his concerns on the potential difficulty of those applying for tax-related discounts due to a delay in sending out the tax bill.
The motion was passed in a vote of 5-3, with the absence of one school board member.