SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - The Parkland School Board will vote on a final, no-tax-increase $192 million budget at its June 23 meeting that doesn't rely as heavily on the district’s fund balance.
During its workshop meeting Tuesday night, the board heard a presentation from John Vignone, the district’s director of business administration, about how the administration trimmed about $2.4 million from what was expected to be an $11.2 million draw from the fund balance to balance the 2020-21 budget.
By postponing almost $917,000 in personnel and various service costs and receiving almost $689,205, most of it from the pandemic-related federal CARES Act, minus a reduction in Social Security and state pension subsidies because of the reduced personnel, the district will reduce the strain on its fund balance, Vignone said.
The budget now requires only an $8.7 million appropriation from the fund balance.
The COVID-19 health crisis has created uncertainty and difficulty in putting together a budget, he added, noting that adjustments had to be made to reduce costs. Vignone said that a healthy fund balance is important to have during times of uncertainty.
The administration did not want to increase taxes or overextend the fund balance, he said. Failure to properly manage a fund balance leads to problems down the road, Vignone said.
Despite the deferred costs and the unenviable task of trimming expenses, Superintendent Richard Sniscak noted that the district will still be in a position to provide a quality educational program for Parkland students.
Board members thanked the administration for looking into ways to temporarily defer expenditures.
Board member Robert Cohen said he was impressed by the sensitivity displayed by administrators in preparing the budget, noting how the administration has stated that the district will manage despite the temporary cuts in personnel.
“I’m OK with that. We’re just postponing,” he said, adding he hopes areas that have been deferred will incrementally come back when things return to normal.
Last month, the board approved a proposed budget with no tax increase, taking into account that property owners may be struggling financially with the economic fallout from the pandemic.
As with many other Lehigh Valley districts, Parkland faces increased expenditures, resulting in large part from pension costs and charter school tuition.
With a millage rate of 15.71, the Parkland School District maintains the lowest real estate tax rate in Lehigh County. Real estate tax is calculated by multiplying the millage rate and the assessed value of the property.