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Chester County Press

U-CF approves 2.66 percent tax increase for 2016-17 budget

06/21/2016 09:46AM ● By J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board shaved just a bit off the numbers for 2016-17 before approving a final budget at their meeting on June 20.

Reflecting a concern voiced recently by board president Victor Dupuis, a slightly revised budget was approved, by a vote of 7-2. Robert Cochran, the district's director of business and operations, told the board, “The new budget calls for 27.69 mills in Chester County, which is a 2.59 percent increase, and 23.56 mills in Delaware County, representing a 2.93 percent increase. This is a weighted average millage increase of 2.66 percent, as compared to what is written in the agenda tonight, which is 2.77 percent.”

The expenditures in both budgets remained the same, at $82,493,427. The figures also include a 1 percent real estate transfer tax.

“The only difference between the two budgets is the amount of fund balance used,” Cochran explained. “This budget uses approximately $74,000 in fund balance. The initial motion, which is shown on the agenda, used just under $1,000 of fund balance.”

Board member Michael Rock said, “I'm not happy with going below 3 percent to make somebody comfortable, if what we're doing is eating away at our fund balance,” a reference to Dupuis saying he was uncomfortable with an increase of 3 percent or higher. “I don't understand approving a budget with a deficit. I'm opposed to it. I think this is a step backwards.”

Board member Gregg Lindner echoed Rock's opinion. “We went to a 2.77 percent at the last meeting because we discussed the fact that it would not draw from the fund balance,” he said. “We talked about the fact that our current unassigned fund balance is about 3.8 percent. According to our policy, we should not have a fund balance below 5 percent. I understand that we have a PSER balance that is $2.5 million. I think we were doing the right thing before, at 2.77. I have all due respect for Mr. Dupuis. It's just the math. This is not going to help us. There is nothing on the horizon that is telling me we will be increasing our unassigned fund balance in the future. We just know we're going to be spending the dollars, and I think it's unfortunate that we're doing it.

“This is about $70,000 out of an $80 million budget, so I get it. But I think it's the wrong thing that we're doing. We're just kicking things down the road further,” Lindner added.

In the end, the vote was 7 to 2 in favor of the revised budget figure of a 2.66 percent weighted average increase.

“Unlike Harrisburg, we now have a budget for the next fiscal year,” Dupuis said after the vote. “Congratulations, everyone.”

In other business, the board approved bids of just over $47,000 for paving at three schools, $10,200 for sealcoating and line painting, $13,348 for instaling LED lights in the parking lot of Patton Middle School, and $25,000 for a design for replacing the district's fuel pumps, which are aging and beginning to fail.

The board voted in favor of making federal fund applications for $104,010 for improving basic programs, and $54,393 for improving teacher quality. The board also unanimously voted to approve next year's salaries for administrators, professional and support staff; as well as the Act 93 compensation and benefit agreement for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2020.

For more information, visit www.ucfsd.org and click on “board documents.”

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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