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Preliminary School Budget Approved in Abington

School district business administrator: Preliminary budget is 'tenuous, very conservative.'

The Abington School Board approved the district’s 2013-14 preliminary budget at its meeting Tuesday night.

The preliminary budget weighs in at $137.33 million — $3.86 million or 3 percent higher than last year’s budget. The biggest single increase in the preliminary budget is something the board can’t control: mandated benefits, the school district’s contribution to the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS).

This year, the district must contribute 16.93 percent to PSERS — 16 percent of that is the pension rate and the remainder goes to health insurance premium assistance. According to the website, PSERS is also funded through investment earnings and mandatory member contributions.

For a press release on the PSERS rate this year, click here.

The district paid $16.52 million in mandated benefits last year, and that figure will likely jump by about 20 percent to $20.2 million for the 2013-14 budget.

In the preliminary budget, salaries come in at $76 million, a 1 percent increase over last year; negotiated benefits will cost $13 million, up 0.23 percent; and the non-salary/non-benefit costs will actually go down by about $617,000 or 2 percent. Superintendent Amy Sichel lauded facilities supervisor Stephen Saile for his help in reducing the cost of the last item by increasing the energy efficiency of the school district’s buildings.

In the preliminary budget, the district will use about $10.58 million in allocated fund balance to cover the gap; it used $10.17 million last year.

The budget is missing a lot of numbers, like official numbers from the feds, the state and credits due to gambling revenue, the latter of which should be available in May.

Due to Act 1, the Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006, school districts are limited on how much they can raise taxes. This year, Abington is capped at a 1.7 percent increase, as are Upper Dublin, Upper Moreland, Jenkintown and Cheltenham.

Incidentally, a 1.7 percent increase would bump up the millage rate from 27.80 to 28.27. In real terms, a homeowner with a house assessed at $150,000 would pay about $4,240 in taxes annually with the increase, up about $70 over last year’s bill.

But … the direction of the board is that it doesn’t want to raise taxes, Sichel said.

It’s still early in the budget process.

Check back later for an update.

Victor B. Krievins February 13, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Too bad abington schools are rated 49 of 100. Below cheltenham, jenkintown, upper Dublin etc.
Joseph Finnick February 13, 2013 at 11:30 PM
By Philadelphia Magazine using a flawed methodology... Not surprising that national surveys treat Abington much better. For instance, Abington is ranked #31 in the state here: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/pennsylvania/districts/abington--sd/abington-senior-high-school-16766 While Cheltenham is not ranked, but clearly scored lower on test scores. Jenkintown is ranked behind Abington nationally, and Upper Dublin once again has lower test scores.
Michael Curtis Sr February 19, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Where does the Board of Commissioners or the School Board think people are going to get the money for any type of TAX increase? People on Social Security have been screwed by the Democrat U.S. Congess. No cost of living from 2009 to 2013 while prices across the board went up, gas, food ,meds, electric, ect. The U.S. Congress and the V.P gets a raise from Obama this year. WHY? People who live here in Abington on FIXED income have been screwed again. Here's an IDEA! How about The School Board cut their wages in half, Superintendent Amy Sichel cut her wages by 1/3 and all those that work for the schools in Abington PAY more for their own benefits like the rest of us half to do. Mandated Benefits is nothing more than mandated tax increase on the rest of us. This is nothing more than digging into the taxpayers pocket. Wages are down, work hours cut because of Obamacare ( read the 1,900 pages, job killing bill, I have twice). Where are the jobs to pay for these " TAX INCREASES??
Rachel Schwartz February 21, 2013 at 09:09 PM
What exactly are the school kids getting out of this budget??? I don't see their education improving, that's for sure!

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