With the June meeting of the Unionville-Chadds Ford school board came the approval of the final budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year at $75.9 million which, although passed unanimously, came with some controversy among the members.
The final number, down about $75,000 from the preliminary number in January, includes a tax increase of 2.76 percent in Chester County and 2.26 percent in Delaware County. The increase is down from the original estimates in the preliminary budget, but was still a staggering number to see for board member Keith Knauss.
“The tax increase we’re voting on tonight is 2.6 percent and many are under the misconception we drafted this budget the last few months,” he said. “In reality, this budget was set one and a half years ago when we signed the teacher contract increasing compensation by over 3 percent. The board approved that contract with a 7-2 majority. I voted no and mentioned at the time that we would be experiencing a steady increase to commensurate with the 3 percent compensation increase in the contract.
“Sure enough, our spending this year will increase by over 3 percent. I will reluctantly vote yes on this budget while the tax increase is what I consider excessive. The board is obligated to pay what we agreed to contractually one and one half years ago.”
Knauss wasn’t the only member of the board to speak out on the budget as Michael Rock also chimed in, but he was on the opposite side of the fence.
“I don’t view the tax increase as excessive,” he said. “Labor costs chew up a bunch, but we have to give salary increases if we expect to maintain a high quality of teachers that we have at the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. We could try to slow that for a year or two, but there will be an exorable rise in real salaries or there will be an exorable decline in quality of education at the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District has to offer.”
The two did not meet eye-to-eye on the subject, but once the vote was cast, there was not a single nay to be heard.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter: