A vote on a $47,401,439 proposed Saucon Valley School District budget for 2019-2020 was tabled at the school board’s meeting Tuesday, after board members said they wanted more information before voting on its adoption.
The proposed budget does not include a tax increase.
“The mills would stay at 53.43,” finance director David Bonenberger said, although expenditures have increased 2.45 percent in the proposed budget.
School district superintendent Dr. Craig Butler noted during discussion that the proposed budget also reflects a reduction in staff by two full-time positions.
He said the positions are being eliminated due to retirements or resignations.
Discussion about whether to table the budget began after board member Sandra Miller said the board had received an email stating that they would not be voting on the budget Tuesday night.
Butler said he had sent an email stating that, but was subsequently reminded by Bonenberger that the proposed budget needed to be on review for 30 days.
Board vice president Dr. Shamim Pakzad made a motion to table the matter, but that was temporarily halted because tabling it would have ended any further discussion about the proposed budget.
“I don’t know why we’re tabling it. It’s a proposed budget,” board member Bryan Eichfeld began, before the motion to table it was withdrawn.
“It’s just a step,” he continued. “I don’t think there’s gonna be major changes, but if there is we’re totally in control of it.”
He said that last year the proposed budget was approved in January.
“I’m just being mindful about the fact that our other colleagues haven’t had the chance” to review the budget the way the board members who are on the finance committee have, Pakzad said. “They should have a little more time.”
“I wish we had a budget in January,” he added. “Last year we did not. I think it was later than January.”
Miller added that they have not had a chance to review a five-year economic forecast for the district, which they were scheduled to do Wednesday night.
“The assumptions that are behind that document I’d like to have discussed,” she said, “such as increments for salary increases.”
Miller said a forecast deficit could require a tax increase, and a tax increase should be included in a proposed budget that is submitted for public review for purposes of transparency.
“It is our desire to be very transparent with the budget,” Butler said. “So if that means going to the finance committee and having some discussion there and also doing a presentation in front of all board members, publicly, we are happy to do that as well.”
The motion to table the proposed budget was approved by a vote of 6-2, with Eichfeld and board member Michael Karabin voting against tabling it.
By law the district school board must adopt the proposed budget by May 31.
It must then make it available for public inspection. Final adoption of the 2019-2020 budget is mandatory by June 30.
Board member Mark Sivak was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, which can be viewed on YouTube here.
The next Saucon Valley School Board meeting will be held Tuesday, May 14 at 7 p.m. in the high school Audion room. Meetings are open to the public and draft meeting agendas can be reviewed in advance on the district website.