School board passes budget

Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board directors have passed the 2016-2017 school year budget, a plan that calls for a tax increase that’s slightly less than originally proposed. Less for Chadds Ford Township property owners, that is.

A proposed final budget that was agreed upon in May called for an increase of 3.06 percent for Delaware County property owners. However, board President Vic Dupuis said he was uncomfortable with an increase that exceeded 3 percent, and an amendment was suggested.

That amendment, which lowered the Chadds Ford increase to 2.93 percent, was agreed to during the June 20 meeting and the budget was approved with that amendment. The vote was 7-2 with Directors Michael Rock and Gregg Lindner voting against.

District Business Manager Bob Cochran said the budget still calls for $82.5 million is expenditures. The difference, between the proposed final and the budget that passed Monday, is that the actual budget will spend $74,000 from the reserve fund to lessen the tax increase. That is what led Rock and Lindner to vote no.

Rock, in reference to Dupuis’ previous comment, said, “I’m not happy going below 3 percent to make somebody feel comfortable if what we’re going to do is eat away at our fund balance.”

Lindner said he was opposed because the current fund balance is already less than what it should be and that some expenses will increase during the next 16 years.

He said the current fund balance is 3.8 percent, but that district policy says the balance should be no less than 5 percent. Lindner added that the district’s debt balance is now $8 million and won’t decrease until 2032. In the interim, he said, it will increase because of other projects, such as the 10-year improvement project.

“We’re under 5 percent today, “Lindner said. “This is not going to help us. It’s only $70,000 or so out of an $80 million budget, I get it, but it’s the wrong thing to do.”

Board Vice President Jeff Hellrung reminded the board that the budget still “provides the full educational program recommended by the administration. The only difference is the millage and the amount of reserves to be used from our reserve fund.”

With millage rates set at 27.69 for Chester County, property owners there will pay $2,769 per very $100,000 of assessed property value. That 27.69 rate represents a 2.59 percent increase over last year.

Chadds Ford residents will pay $2,356 per $100,000 based on a millage rate of 23.56 mills.

The weighted average increase between the two counties is 2.66 percent.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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