For the second year in a row, the Pennridge School Board is poised to approve a budget that requires neither a property tax increase nor the use of reserves to balance the books.
However, the $143.8 million Proposed Final Budget approved by the board Monday night includes some significant unknowns when it comes to local revenue for 2020-2021, including how the economic downturn will affect property tax and earned income tax collections and interest income.
According to projections discussed at an earlier Finance Committee meeting, the district could see a shortfall of between $6.5 million and $7.6 million in local revenue next year, depending on how long the recovery takes. Even under the most optimistic scenario using the district’s own experience from the 2008 recession, local revenue could plummet by nearly $4 million.
Rather than include those grim numbers in the proposed budget, the administration opted to stick with its pre-pandemic revenue forecast.
“As we move through the year, we will carefully watch revenue and expenditures and make necessary adjustments,” said district Business Manager Sean Daubert.
The district has nearly $30 million in reserves it could use to plug any holes in the budget.
Superintendent David Bolton lauded the work of Daubert and his staff for coming up with a balanced budget under unique circumstances. None of the expenditure reductions and deferred projects that were made involved classroom activities, he said.
“We are really confident we are in a wonderful place financially,” said Bolton. “We have positioned ourselves to react in fall and winter to whatever the data shows in Pennridge.”
If the Final Budget is approved with no changes next month, the owner of a property assessed at the median assessed value of $31,200 will continue to pay about $4,220 in school district tax.