The New Math: How $1.3 Million Becomes Zero

XequalsAt the Octorara Area School District Board Meeting (Monday, May 20, 2013) we were informed, as of this moment, the final budget will include a zero increase for Chester County. Lancaster County will increase from 27.49 mill to 27.71, a tax rate lower than 2010-11 because of district re-balancing. Even with the rate freeze Chester County residents may still see a tax increase, dependent on final numbers from state gambling revenue.

The original proposed 2013-14 budget was $47.9 Million. The spending with this final budget, to be voted on no later than the regular meeting in June, is $47.5 Million, a reduction of approximately $400,000 or less than 1% in cuts.

The 2012-13 final budget was $46.7 Million. The original proposed 2013-14 budget was an increase of $1.3 Million or 2.7%. The current version is an increase in spending of roughly $800,000 or 1.7% additional.

Despite the increase spending of around $800,000, the final budget needs and includes over $1 Million in “savings account” funds in order to balance, and keep the tax increase to zero, a gap of more than $200,000.

Keep this in mind… there were no real cut to spending, only spending less than originally proposed in the initial budget presentation.

Looking forward to 2014-15

The average increase to proposed budgets, over the last four years, has been 4.7% (2008-09 & 2009-10 were not included in the Budget Process History report provided to the public in February). The average increase over the last five budgets is 2.44% (including the unofficial 1.7% for 2013-14, and excluding the 7.27% from 2008-09).

Based on the historical data, it is reasonable to presume an initial proposed budget of $49.7 Million for 2014-15 by the district, with a tax rate of approximately 39 mills, an increase of 2.34 mills for Chester County.

Of course, we will be told the budget is a process. Therefore, looking at a reasonable projected expectation for a final budget, the historical data provides us to reasonably expect a final budget of $48.7 Million, in 2014-15, with an estimated tax rate of 38.2 mills, an increase of 1.54 mills.

Harrisburg can’t fix problems the district created

While we can all agree that Harrisburg does create issues for districts, they did not create our high labor cost issue, our over-building, or our debt. These are issues it seem some long-time board members do not want to address, and we will not see the board address these issues until they are motivated by the actions of citizens, taxpayers, and voters.

Off-Topic: The Primary Election

As an off-topic note, I will mention that today is the Primary Election for School Director seats in Region 2 & 3. Polls will be open from 7:00AM-8:00PM.

Take a look at the sample ballots for your area:

Region 2 has only one person running, incumbent Samuel Ganow, with two seats available. Both Republicans and Democrats looking to make a difference should write their names in, and ask your friends to write you in as well.

Region 3 has two seats available, with incumbent Nelson Stoltzfus running against Timothy Alexander (me), and Frank Dangelo.

I call this off-topic because the only time the election has been mentioned at a school board meeting was the day I announced my candidacy. One can only speculate as to why the board would not attempt to encourage greater citizen participation with some attempt at promoting the election.

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