School board passes 2.8 percent budget

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  • DV Superintendent John Bell (Photo by Anya Tikka)

  • Pamela Lufty, DV school board president (Photo by Anya Tikka)

“I support it. I feel it was needed. We did have six years of zero percent, keeping things pretty tight, and that does catch up with you. This year, we need to accomplish things that we need to get done.”
Pamela Lutfy, school board president

— The Delaware Valley school board gave its final "yes" to the 2.8 percent school tax hike at their end of June meeting.

There were two "no" votes.
The proposed budget had been open for public review for 30 days after the board finally agreed on the percentage. There had been months of deliberation and proposals to increase the tax by as much as 4.5 percent to cover against future increases in premium payments.

The Finance Committee’s chair, Jack Fisher, had objected strongly to anything less than 4.5 percent, warning he could see problems in the future. But in the end he agreed to the increase. Board members Jack O’Leary and Jessica Decker voted no. Neither could be reached for a comment at press time.

O’Leary had stated various times that he couldn’t vote for any tax increases since he’d run for the office promising not to raise taxes. He also said he knew many families in the district simply couldn’t afford any increases at all.

Jessica Decker had spoken previously about the need to reserve all the money in the budget for educational programs instead of various non-essential programs.

Superintendent John Bell had previously explained: “Payments we have to make to the Pennsylvania State retirement system are going to continue going up every year for the next ten years. Eventually, at some point in the future, we won’t have the money to put away if we don’t cover for it. The state gives us projected increases. The current school year rate is 16.93 percent, next year it’s going to be 21.4 percent, going up to 32 percent for the school year 2019-20. Our retirement payments are going to double in six years.”

After the final round of voting, board president Pamela Lutfy said, “I support it. I feel it was needed. We did have six years of zero percent, keeping things pretty tight, and that does catch up with you. This year, we need to accomplish things that we need to get done.”

Her thoughts were echoed by Bell, who was pleased at the agreement.

“I’m thrilled that we were able to get the budget from 4.5 down to 2.8 percent, because it means we’re able to continue with a lot of programs," he said. "We’re going in the right direction without going to the maximum tax levy, and that’s always a great goal to get to. We’re thrilled it’s 2.8 instead of 4.5.”

By Anya Tikka

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