Neshaminy School District responded to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s allegations that the district and 11 other school districts used legal loopholes to raise taxes when they didn’t need to.
Republican Auditor General Timothy Dehua announced at a press conference this week that Neshaminy and other districts used “legal standard practice to raise local property taxes while districts keep millions of dollars in the General Fund.” bottom.
At a press conference in Harrisburg, Dehua said the 12 districts his office pointed to have healthy cash balances that could be used to fill budget gaps. He said it is common practice to shuffle unused funds into other funds to justify tax increases.
Last June, the Neshaminy School Board approved a $196.2 million budget that increased the tax rate from 165.6 to 171.23 mils. District business manager Don Irwin said at the time that the increase equated to an average cost of $62.19 per household, compared to an increase of $157.84 without state assistance.
District officials said at the time that the tax increase was due to rising costs, contractual obligations, and several large projects, including the construction of a new elementary school in Middletown Township.
In a statement Friday night, the district said the school board “carefully balances its financial responsibility to taxpayers, the financial stability of the district, and the needs of its students.”
Officials in Neshaminy said years went by without a tax increase and state limits were not exceeded from 2018 to 2022.
The district said it plans to enact a recommendation from the auditor general, but stressed that “no violations of laws or regulations were found” at Neshamini.
The Auditor General’s report enraged some residents who took to social media following the news.
Below is the full statement from the Neshamini School District.
The Neshamini School District Authority and the Neshamini City Board of Education have carefully reviewed the performance audit report released January 25, 2023. The school district has accepted the facts presented and intends to implement all recommendations made in the report. The report said the auditors “found no violations of law or regulation.” However, we feel that some of the characterizations made in the report on managing district general fund balances related to tax rate increases warrant further explanation.
Over the past decade, the Neshaminy School Board has carefully balanced its financial responsibility to taxpayers, the financial stability of the school district, and the needs of its students. School districts face many financial challenges, including a significant increase in payments to the State Educational Retirement System (PSERS), increased operating costs, and the need to fund multiple capital projects such as critical district-wide schools. was (and still is) faced with Funding for building renovations and upgrades, technology improvements, and new construction. With these obligations in mind, the district should plan ahead and use its positive financial position (partially due to fund balances) to obtain more favorable interest rates when borrowing money for new construction projects. used. This was achieved for seven years, from 2010 to 2016, without any tax increases. 2022 school year:
While it is true that the Board applied for exemption from the referendum to surpass the index, as noted in the report, it is important to note that this option was never used. The intent was to keep that option open in case of unforeseen circumstances as multiple capital projects were completed. At the time, the school district believed this was a prudent plan to keep the project on track and avoid additional funding costs.
We believe the above tax history demonstrates Neshaminy’s long-term responsibility and commitment to the communities we serve. The school board and district administration will continue to pursue these goals within the guidelines set out by the report.
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