Parkland Press

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

School district plans tax hike

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 by SUSAN RUMBLE Special to The Press in Local News

Parkland School Board and administration, during the April 26 seminar, reviewed the proposed $186.5 million budget for 2019-20 and reported the tax rate needed to provide for it.

The plan calls for a 15.77 mill tax rate, a 2.27-percent increase over 2018-19.

For each $100,000 of assessed property value, a property owner would have a $35 increase in taxes.

The impact on the average residential assessed value of $227,870 would be an increase of $79.75 over the previous term.

Business Manager John Vignone said the district benefits from a 2.41-percent increase in real estate assessments.

“That is a lot,” Vignone said. “That’s a pretty good increase.”

He also forecast about an additional $500,000 coming from earned income tax.

Vignone said the district will appropriate $5.9 million from its fund balance to avoid an additional 0.74 mills on the tax rate.

The amount from the fund balance equates to 3.17 percent of the total budget.

Last year’s budget had a $7 million appropriation from the fund balance.

With salaries and benefits taking up 75 percent of the budget, Vignone noted there is not much money remaining for extras.

“There’s not a lot of frills in here but it is a basic budget,” Vignone said. “It’s a balanced budget.”

Superintendent Richard Sniscak expressed appreciation for the positive trend in revenue but mentioned challenges and concerns as the financial plan moves forward.

He said the amount of commonwealth funding is uncertain, tuition costs for cyber/charter schools keep going up, and the debt service payment is another matter of consideration.

Vignone addressed the commonwealth source issue.

“We never know for sure what we’re going to get,” Vignone stated.

He also commented on the $16.3 million, or 8.74 percent of the budget, designated for debt service in 2019-20.

“It’s a good thing our debt service is under 10 percent of the budget.”

Sniscak stated Parkland continues to be negatively impacted by cyber and charter school funding.

“This cost is borne by our taxpayers,” the superintendent said. “We must continue to talk to our representatives in Harrisburg for statewide cyber and charter school funding reform.”

He noted the proposed 2019-20 budget represents nearly a year of deliberation and collaboration among the entire administrative team.

“In our budget deliberations, we focus our efforts upon controlling expenditures to the greatest extent possible, while still striving to raise the bar for student achievement,” Sniscak said.

Board members are expected to vote May 21 on the proposed budget, then vote for final approval on June 25.