Board honing school budget

Property owners in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District will know in six weeks what they'll be paying in school property taxes for the next school year. But before that happens, school board directors must settle on a proposed final budget. That will happen next week, on May 15.

During the board's May 8 work session, directors reviewed three possible proposed final budgets. The discussions also included consideration of more debt totaling $12.5 million, and what the payments on that new debt would be over a 15-year or 20-year period.

That possible added debt — $7.5 million this year and another loan of $5 million five years later — would be to cover the district's long-range capital plan, according to district Business Manager Bob Cochran, should the district decide to borrow.

Cochran added that whichever route the board takes, 15 or 20 years, the debt service would still be within the acceptable 10 percent of the total budget.

Also under consideration are changes to student participation and parking fees, as well as increasing transportation funding. Cochran said increasing the debt to $700,000 per year, based on a 20-year repayment plan, adding $50,000 for transportation and cutting participation and parking fees by 20 percent, would lead to an average tax increase of 3.13 percent.

A second budget scenario considered has a weighted average tax increase of 2.16 percent, and a third scenario shows an average increase between the two counties in the district at 0.56 percent.

At the conclusion of the budget discussion, board President Vic Dupuis asked for a show of hands to get a feel for any consensus among directors. That showing indicated seven directors favoring a vote next week of a proposed final budget with a tax increase of 2.16 percent.

However, that is still subject to change next week and next month.

"This doesn't preclude continued discussions," Dupuis said, "and does not preclude making a motion to amend next week or even in June at either of the two meetings."

This year's millage rates have been 27.69 mills for Chester County property owners and 23.56 mills for Chadds Ford Township property owners. Chadds Ford Township is the only Delaware County municipality in the school district. Those rates represented an average tax increase of 2.66 percent.

The board will vote on a final budget on June 19.

 

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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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