Kennett school officials considering 2.27 percent tax hike; will cost average homeowner $123 more per year

Kennett Square >> Kennett Consolidated School District taxpayers could see a tax increase of up to 2.27 percent under a new budget adopted by the district.

The KCSD school board voted to adopt the new 2018–2019 budget at their meeting Monday night, after introducing it preliminarily at their February monthly meeting. The 2.27 percent tax increase included in the $86.3 millionin budget would mean an extra outlay of $123 for the average $330,000 residential property, according to board Treasurer Michael H. Finnegan.

But last night and in February, Finnegan pointed out that the tax bite may not be as much as the current numbers indicated. Payments from the state may vary from their current estimates, and retirements may affect the district’s expenses as well. In February, Finnegan said the final tax rate could be lower than 2 percent.

At last night’s meeting, Finnegan repeated that hope for a lower actual tax bill than the budget specified. “We’ve always managed to get it down before,” he said.

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The major factors causing expenses to rise were salaries and benefits, Finnegan said in February, particularly rising retirement-fund contributions required by the state after a long period of underfunding before the 2008 recession.

In other business, the board members granted permission for the high school robotics team to go to Detroit April 25 through April 28 to participate in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Championship competition. The FIRST organization was founded by inventor Dean Kamen.

A number of student members attended the meeting and described various aspects of the competition. The team has existed for seven years and currently has 36 members, with seven adult mentors. This year’s world competition is the second the team will attend, after having gone last year.

Christina Gorman, an adult mentor with the team, said she was impressed not only with their skill in robotics but with their gracious behavior as competitors. At events she’d attended, the students went out of their way to socialize and have friendly interactions with the other students they met there, Gorman said.

Board President Joseph Meola said he was amazed at the team’s consistent high achievement. “It’s phenomenal, it’s fantastic,” he said. “We really are proud.”

The board voted unanimously to permit the team to attend the competition.

In financial business, the board voted to refinance its bonds to change them from variable to fixed rate. In recent years, the board members said, the short-term interest rates made the yield on the variable-rate bonds favorable. But they felt the changing economic climate meant it would be wise to have a fixed-rate bond and eliminate the possibility of future increases in interest.

The board voted to preliminarily authorize certain changes in their policies related to payroll authorization, payroll deductions, and payment of bills. They gave final approval to other policy changes on bank accounts and investment of district funds.

A number of budget approvals and authorizations for various programs also came up, as well as textbook adoptions. The board also approved personnel changes.