Pre­lim­i­nary bud­get in­cludes tax hike

School board also OKs bond swap to save district $600,000

The Southern Berks News - - FRONT PAGE - By Denise Larive

The Daniel Boone School Board ap­proved with a 6-2 vote on May 8 a pre­lim­i­nary 2017-18 bud­get with a 3.2 per­cent property tax in­crease.

If that is the fi­nal bud­get ap­proved by the board by June 30, the mill­age rate would in­crease from the cur­rent 29.70 mills to 30.68 mills.

Property own­ers who pay $2,970 for ev­ery $100,000 of as­sessed value, would pay $3,068.

Board mem­bers had unan­i­mously ap­proved ear­lier that night a bud­get of $55,812,579.79, with real es­tate mill­age not to ex­ceed the cur­rent 29.70 mills.

“We don’t know yet about staffing — how can we limit rev­enue now?” asked board mem­ber Jeff Scott, adding that if ex­penses change the district’s rev­enue needs to be able to change.

“There is no flex­i­bil­ity in the bud­get now,” said board mem­ber Ta­mara Twar­dowski.

Board mem­bers Con­nor Kurtz and Richard Martino op­posed the new mo­tion, which re­scinded the mo­tion for no tax in­crease.

Board mem­ber Carol Beitz was ab­sent from the meet­ing.

The board had ap­proved on Feb. 13, a pre­lim­i­nary bud­get of $56,336,312, with a 4.5 per­cent tax in­crease per Act 1 and uti­liz­ing the district’s re­tire­ment ex­cep­tion.

Taxes would have in­creased to 31.09 mills.

The board also ap­proved to re­fi­nance the last of its 2008 bond se­ries — which is now $13.4 mil­lion — at a fixed in­ter­est rate of 4.5 per­cent.

Fi­nan­cial Ad­vi­sor Louis Verdelli, of RBC Cap­i­tal Mar­kets, Lan­caster, said the bond swap would save the district $600,000

Verdelli said the in­ter­est rate would be locked in on June 5, be­fore the Fed­eral Re­serve’s next meet­ing on June 14.

The clos­ing date would be early July.

The board has tabled a vote on elim­i­nat­ing the district’s per capita tax, which would have been ef­fec­tive with 2018 mu­nic­i­pal bud­gets.

Amity Town­ship Man­ager Troy Binga­man, Union Town­ship Man­ager Ja­son Wa­ger, and Birds­boro Bor­ough Man­ager Aaron Durso, said elim­i­nat­ing the “head count” tax on any­one over age 18 would im­pact each of their mu­nic­i­pal bud­gets.

Ap­pli­ca­ble res­i­dents of Amity and the Bor­ough of Birds­boro each pay a flat tax of $15.

Union Town­ship res­i­dents pay $10.

Net sav­ings to the school district are $102,000, said Busi­ness Man­ager Loren Small.

Per capita tax bills are gen­er­ated by the district of­fice.

“It would be a loss of $15,000 of rev­enue — 15 per­cent of our cur­rent street project bud­get,” said Durso, adding that the bor­ough an­nu­ally do­nates $15,000 to the Boone Area Li­brary, 129 N. Mill St., Birds­boro.

“I think it’s a fair tax. No tax is fair, but it’s a straight up flat tax,” said Durso.

He said its elim­i­na­tion would likely re­sult in the bor­ough en­act­ing “a tax to coun­ter­act a tax that is no longer coming,” although he couldn’t comment fur­ther.

The Bor­ough Coun­cil’s next meet­ing is June 15.

Binga­man said Amity Town­ship’s rev­enue from the per capita tax is $40,000.

An­other op­tion is for the school board to im­pose an ad­di­tional one-tenth of a mill on the property tax rate.

Property taxes are paid by all own­ers of property lo­cated within the Daniel Boone School District.

“The cost of billing — mail­ing the bills — Daniel Boone has staff costs,” said board Pres­i­dent Michael D. Wolfe.

“Try­ing to keep track of census data — that is why it’s called a nui­sance tax,” said Small.

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