The Community Connection

Tax hike unlikely in 2021-22 budget

- By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-centurymed­ @PottstownN­ews on Twitter

POTTSTOWN » With school budget season now underway, the Pottstown School Board was informed that despite a deficit, a tax hike is unlikely for the 20212022 school year.

Board member Thomas Hylton, who heads the board’s finance committee, and Business Manager Maureen Jampo explained to the board that because of reduced costs due to virtual learning, the board added more than $3 million to its reserves over the course of this current school year.

As a result, the administra­tion plans to use reserves to cover the $1.7 million gap between anticipate­d revenues and expenditur­es in the coming school year. The millage will likely remain at 41.96 mills.

Hylton said if the budget is adopted in June with no tax hike, it will mean the Pottstown School Board has only raised property taxes twice in the last seven years.

Neverthele­ss, Pottstown’s local tax effort will remain among the top 10 in the Commonweal­th.

Jampo said the draft budget is built under the assumption that none of Gov. Tom Wolf’s expansive budget proposals for increasing and more fairly distributi­ng state aid to education will come to pass.

Wolf’s budget would distribute all basic education funding through the fair funding formula adopted in 2016, which would mean an additional $13 million to Pottstown’s budget, in addition to reforms to charter school funding, which would provide nearly $1 million savings to Pottstown.

But Republican politician­s, who hold a majority in both houses of the General Assembly, “have already called Wolf’s budget ‘dead on arrival,’” Jampo said.

So, as an exercise in caution, the budget is built on the assumption that state funding “will be flat or reduced,” she said.

Board members John Armato, Laura Johnson and Raymond Rose are not ready to make that assumption yet.

Armato reminded the board that he is a “strong believer in the power of positive thinking; that if you have a positive view and think about things positively that positive things will happen.” He said he prefers to exercise hope as well as caution.

Johnson, who is in regular contact with state legislator­s, said she has heard from them that “nothing is going to happen with school funding unless people show us they care.”

All too often, she says, state legislator­s tell her they “don’t hear from public school parents.”

“I do think we’re making progress, but I also think it will take more voices,” Johnson said on the issue of fair school funding.

Johnson, who was just named chairperso­n of the

Montgomery County Legislativ­e Committee, and Rose have jointly helped create a statewide advocacy group called Pennsylvan­ians For Fair Funding. Previously, Johnson had created a Facebook page for Advocates for Pottstown Schools.

Both are easily found on Facebook and both regularly share links and suggestion­s for how taxpayers and parents can make their voices heard more clearly in Harrisburg.

“It’s time for legislator­s to hear from public school parents that this system needs to be fixed,” said Rose.

In other budget news, Jampo reported although assessed property value dropped again in 2020, the budget impact is minimal, a little over $21,000. “Still we’d like to see it going in

the other direction,” she said.

 ?? IMAGES FROM SCREENSHOT ?? The Pottstown School Board continues to meet virtually.
IMAGES FROM SCREENSHOT The Pottstown School Board continues to meet virtually.

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