Board Approves Proposed Final Budget with No Tax Increase

The Board approved a proposed final 2020-2021 operating budget of $340,897,734 with no tax increase recommended. The proposed final budget may be reviewed in its entirety on the district’s website.

Central Bucks School District's Business Administrator Brian Loftus explained that while the budget is recommended with no tax increase, over the past six weeks, the economic outlook of the country, the state, and the school district have changed dramatically.

“The impact of the [COVID-19] pandemic on the district’s revenues will be significant and severe,” he said, “Difficult decisions will need to be made as we balance our duty as good stewards of taxpayer money with the ambitious educational goals of the district and first and foremost, the safety of our students and staff. That said, while the situation presents many challenges, the mission and the vision of the district remain unchanged.”

Mr. Loftus walked the board through a detailed presentation of the proposed final budget, including drastic changes in anticipated revenue. The pandemic’s impact on the local economy will impact real estate tax revenue through reductions in collection rates, potential reassessments, and reduced assessment value growth. A significant slowing of real estate activity will also cause a reduction in proceeds from transfer and interim taxes.

A growing unemployment rate will drive reductions in earned income tax revenue, while investment income will also be diminished. Previously anticipated state subsidy increases may not materialize as the Commonwealth manages the crisis’ impact on its own budget, that depends largely on income taxes. Overall, revenue projections for the coming year are projected to be $9.2 million less than levels anticipated when the preliminary budget was approved prior to the pandemic. However, the final impact of the crisis is simply not yet known.

Expenditures are overall very flat over those budgeted for the 2019-2020 school year, with a decrease of 2% from the approved preliminary budget. The district’s PSERS contribution rate and healthcare costs continue to rise and make the most significant impact on the district’s expenditures. Mr. Loftus mentioned a positive note in the form of the district’s debt management, primarily due to the board’s debt defeasance efforts, which have positioned the district to better face the economic downturn.

As approved by the Board of School Directors, the 2020-2021 budget reflects a zero percent tax increase for the sixth consecutive year, and seventh in the past eight years. Final budget approval is scheduled for the June 23, 2020 meeting of the Board of School Directors. Follow the budget preparation and download previous presentations on the district's website here.