PHOENIXVILLE — At the end of a budget meeting on Feb. 18, the Phoenixville Area School Board approved a $83,232,993 preliminary budget by a 6-1 vote.
The budget carries a shortfall of approximately $500,000 which could be covered by a 3.89 percent tax increase, according to district figures.
Such an increase would raise the mill rate within the Phoenixville Area School District from 28.64 mills to 29.75. That would cause a property at the median value in the district, $133,540, to have an increase in taxes of $148.22 next year.
It’s relatively unlikely the tax increase will remain so high, as in years past the preliminary budgets have been trimmed significantly before they were finalized by July.
Phoenixville’s Act 1 index, the total amount taxes can be raised without a public referendum, is 2.1 percent this year. That number is based on calculations put forward by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
The district does qualify for certain exceptions this year, meaning 3.89 percent would fit in without the referendum. Those exceptions include debt service, special education and Public School Employee Retirement System (PSERS) funding.
Board member Paul Slaninka was the lone vote against the budget. Both Jan Potts and Dan Cushing were not present to vote.
An item that isn’t built into the budget currently is potential increased funding to the Phoenixville Public Library, which requested an increase of $25,416. That’s a five percent increase and would be the first increase in five years, the library said.
Already built into the budget are four more temporary, modular classrooms for East Pikeland Elementary School due to overcrowding there and debt service for the proposed, combined early learning center and elementary school building on Meadow Brook Golf Club’s property, which is still pending a court decision.
A presentation on the budget showed that one of the revenue sources in the district that is actually increasing is the rental of facilities. In 2009-10, the school district grossed $33,412 from rentals. Last year, the district took in $81,604 and the district is budgeting for $104,000 in 2014-15.
The budget carries an unreserved fund balance of $6,033,983, putting it in the 5 to 8 percent range recommended by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
An approval date for the final budget has been slated for May 22 this year, the district’s budget presentation showed.
Last year’s tax increase was 1.42 percent.