The Pennridge school board ended its months-long battle over its budget Monday night when it voted 6-1 to approve an approximately $111.8 million budget for 2012-13 with no tax increase.
Board members Barry Casper and Ada Miller were absent.
Board member Peter Yarnell cast the only dissenting vote, saying, “I think it’s unwise long-term to vote for no (property tax) increase in this budget.”
Yarnell noted that the budget has a deficit of nearly $1.2 million, and increasing the property tax rate in the school district by the Act 1 limit of 1.7 percent would have generated approximately $1.2 million. Instead, the district will draw from its fund balance to fill the gap.
Board member Bill Sarnese, who previously supported a tax increase, voted with the majority in approving the budget with no tax increase. He said, “I think we can do this this year. It’s how you feel about the future…”
Board President Dave Thompson said he thinks the budget, which has been reduced slightly since preliminary approval, “constitute(s) a win-win for our different constituencies.”
Thompson said he thought high school student Chris Schmidt made a good point at a recent meeting when he asked how budget cuts benefit students. But, Thompson said the board also has to address the question of “How do spending increases benefit our kids?”
The budget holds the line on taxes at 123.0169 mills for the second year in a row. The annual tax bill for the owner of a home assessed at the district average of $30,290 is about $3,726.
Had the board approved a 1.7 percent tax increase, the total tax rate would have been 125.108 mills. That would have cost the owner of a home assessed at the district average of $30,290 an additional $63 per year.
The budget leaves Pennridge with a $4.5 million “rainy day” fund, roughly 4 percent of the total budget. It also leaves about $7.1 million in the district’s fund balance, which has been committed to offsetting debt service, future pension costs and paying future salaries.