UCD board OKs preliminary 2018-19 budget

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By JP Phillips, Staff Writer, The Times

Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Board of Education President Jef Hellrung and Superintendent John Sanville share a moment during Wednesday’s special board meeting.

Because Monday’s work session was cancelled due to bad weather, the Unionville Chadds-Ford school board met on Wednesday morning to approve the preliminary 2018-19 budget.

Just shy of $88.0 million, the preliminary budget represents a 3.56% increase over last year.

Superintendent John Sanville explained, “This proposed preliminary budget is really an estimate budget because we do not yet have revenue data from the state.  The state does not approve their budget or at least announce the governor’s budget until March.  So, what we have done with the leadership of Mr. Cochran (the district’s Director of Business and Operations) is put together a budget that leaves all options open to us.  This is a budget that utilizes all estimated exceptions at this point.  This allows us maximum flexibility moving forward.  And as we have more concrete information as to revenues and expenditures moving forward the board will have continued discussions as we refine this budget.  So, this is really just a budget that will leave all options open to us.”

The Pennsylvania laws known as Act 1 and Act 25 dictate many school budget rules.  Act 1 states that a district cannot raise taxes more than a prescribed index without voter approval (via a special referendum).  Act 25 allows for the district to apply for exceptions (for example, increases in special education and pension costs that exceed the index.   According to Cochran, this budget includes almost $119,000 in exceptions.).

For taxpayers, this preliminary budget represents increases of 1.9% and 8.08% for properties in Chester and Delaware counties, respectively.

Because our district encompasses parts of two counties, the tax calculation is complicated.

Here’s a simplified explanation:  The district estimates all revenue expected from state, federal, transfer taxes, interest, tuition, and student fees.  Revenue is then subtracted from the projected budget, leaving the balance to be funded by property taxes.

The state separately calculates the total market value of our Chester and Delaware county properties.  The district takes that ratio and applies it to the balance needed to satisfy expenses.

The fact that total Delaware County property values grew from 19.058% to 19.944% of the total for UCF generally caused their larger tax increase.  The market data used by the state is two years old.

This budget will be discussed and modified over the next few months, with final budget approval in June.

Read more about the district’s preliminary budget calculations and state filings here:

https://www.boarddocs.com/pa/uncf/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AUTM7G558DF2

Next up:  The rescheduled School Board Work Session at 7:30PM on Tuesday, January 16th at the district office (adjacent to the high school).   Board meetings are open to the public.  They are broadcast live (and archived) on the UCFSD web site.

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