Draft budget plans tax increase
COLEBROOKDALE » With a 6-3 vote, the Boyertown Area School Board adopted a preliminary final budget May 8 that would raise property taxes by 5.4 percent.
The millage would increase by 1.35 mills under the proposed $119 million budget, leading to a tax rate in both the Montgomery and Berks county portions of the district of 25.37 mills.
For a home assessed at $100,000, that represents an increase of $136, which school board member Jill Dennin called “as pretty good deal” for a home with three children on which the district will spend
thousands of dollars each year.
She and board member Brandon Foose both noted that the Boyertown district has see-sawed between low tax hikes followed by higher ones to make up the revenue shortfalls from the lower tax rate.
“You can’t have it all, a nice stadium, nice fields, nice music programs and have zero tax hikes,” said Dennin. “You can have less staff, larger classrooms, or raise taxes to the inflation rate.”
The proposed budget not only raises taxes to the stateimposed limit of 2.9 percent, but takes advantage of an “exception” allowed by the state, to raise taxes beyond that index to pay for additional “special education” costs, without seeking voter approval.
But board members Clay Breece, Ruth Dierolf and Christine Neiman, who represented the three votes against adopting the budget, said not enough had been done to cut costs, and said many residents in the district can not afford the increase.
Saying he thought the district has “squandered money,” and that the proposed hike represents the largest single increase since 2002, Breece said if the board continues to raise taxes at this rate, “in five years, it will add $680” for the same resident with a home assessed at $100,000. “It really is a matter of math,” he said.
“I know there are constituents who can’t afford this,” said Neiman.
The budget seems essentially unchanged from the draft adopted in February, when even Breece and Dieolf voted in favor of it.
Breece complained that the board had held too few budget meetings and more should have been done to look for cost savings.
Board member Steve Elisier, who chairs the finance committee, said the district saved $208,000 by re-financing some bonds, and that there were also significant savings earned through retirements and lower health insurance costs.
The final budget will be adopted and June, and can be reduced between now and then, but not increased.