Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011-2012 Preliminary Budget Part I

The preliminary Budget for the 2011-2012 school year is now available for public inspection. The preliminary budget calls for a 1 mill tax increase. This is the second year in a row for a tax increase but there had been no tax increase the previous 11 years. I will discuss the particulars of the budget in tomorrow’s post, but for now I want to discuss the timelines and procedures that district must follow to adopt a budget.

The budget is currently open for public inspection. You can find the budget here, at the school district’s web site, or you can come to the superintendent’s office to review it. The school board will vote on the preliminary budget at the February Board meeting. The word “preliminary” is very important. The Board is approving the budget in preliminary form this early in the year so the school district can apply for Act 1 exceptions. Act 1 does not allow school districts to raise property taxes above an “index” that the State determines. This year RASD’s index is .6 mills. However, Act 1 does allow for the school district to apply for exceptions that (if approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education) allow the school district to raise taxes above the index. This year the school district will ask for an exception because of the increase in retirement costs. I have discussed the pension “crisis” in a previous post. If PDE approves the exception then the school district can raise property taxes to the 1 mill level that is reflected in the preliminary budget. PDE will inform the district by March 23th whether or not the exception has been granted. Finally, in May the final budget will be available for public inspection and the board will approve a final budget in June. There is a lot of opportunity for public feedback during the budget process. Additionally, there can be changes made to the budget between now and June.

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