WEST BRANDYWINE >> West Brandywine supervisors have adopted a resolution opposing Coatesville Area School District’s proposed tax increase for the 2018-19 school year.

Coatesville school directors have adopted a preliminary $178 million budget that includes a tax hike of 8.45 percent, or 2.95 mils. Board President Dean Snyder and board member Bashera Grove voted against adopting this budget; board member Tom Siedenbuehl was not present at that meeting.

If adopted as presented, the average taxpayer in the district would pay about $317 more per year in taxes.

The resolution, unusual for a municipality to adopt, states the tax increase would “have an adverse impact on the value and homes and property located within the boundaries of West Brandywine Township and throughout the entire school district.”

Opposition has been strong to the budget, and many residents have attended town hall meetings expressing displeasure to school officials.

Some district residents created a petition on change.org urging the school board not to raise taxes.

“Coatesville residents can not continue to shoulder year over year outrageous tax increases without a long term fiscally responsible board which is maximizing an ‘economy of scale’ by reducing costs in order to be in alignment with their currently continuing reduced student population,” the petition states. “If the board doesn’t reduce cost accordingly, it doesn’t matter how many students leave their district; it will never be enough to support their spending plan.”

More than 700 people had signed the petition as of Saturday afternoon.

The district is coming off two consecutive years of overspending the budgeted expenditure levels.

The budget includes money for a pay increase for the teachers in their contract, a new lease for computers for students, new books, continued remediation for students in need, special education costs and improvements, planning for a new elementary school, and continuing pre-school for young learners in the district.

West Brandywine supervisors are asking that the school board re-evaluate the budget proposal and take any necessary steps to lessen the proposed tax increase.

“Representatives of the township administrative staff must continually explain the breakdown of the tax structure and in doing so are asked how the Coatesville Area School District can charge such taxes and continually raise them every year at rates exceeding neighborhood districts,” the resolution states.

Cathy Taschner, Coatesville Area School District superintendent, said in statement that many factors are to blame for the massive tax hike proposal.

“Substantial discussion occurred during the board meeting between members about the budget and the factors driving the proposed 8.4 percent tax increase,” she said. “Those factors include, charter school ... increasing special education costs and pension costs. The current proposed budget does provide for an increase for the teacher contract.”

State Rep. Harry Lewis, who represents the 74th Legislative District, has gone on record opposing the planned tax increase.

“The responsibility of school boards is to then determine how to appropriately allocate that funding and what is generated through property taxes,” Lewis said. “Just as the General Assembly has to make difficult budgetary decisions to balance a budget, school boards should be doing the same. People were also encouraged to contact their elected officials. However, I cannot prevent the school board from raising taxes as it is, unfortunately, a local government issue. My role in securing school funding is at the state level. Since I took office in 2014, I have advocated for the needs of the district each budget season, which resulted in a 13 percent increase – totaling $5.4 million in additional funding – in that time.”

Lewis called on school directors to reject the tax plan as proposed.

“I challenge the Coatesville Area School District school board to return to the negotiating table in defense of taxpayers and come to a fair agreement that doesn’t necessitate raising taxes,” he said.

And state Rep. Becky Corbin, who represents the 155th Legislative District, issued a statement encouraging the board to re-examine the proposed tax hike.

“Since taking office in 2012, I have supported annual increases in state funding for the district amounting to over 19 percent,” she said. “As a state representative, I have no authority to tell the Coatesville Area School District how it should balance its budget. I am concerned that the school board’s preliminary plan would raise school property taxes by 8.4 percent when the rate of inflation has only risen 1.2 percent this past year in Pennsylvania. The school board must do its due diligence and go back to the drawing board and think of the taxpayers.”

The Coatesville Area School Board meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday, May 22 has been moved to the following Tuesday, May 29 at 7 p.m. in the Coatesville Area Senior High auditorium, according to a message posted on the district’s website. At this meeting, the board is set to vote on final adoption of the proposed budget.

The proposed budget is available for inspection at the school district offices at 3030 C.G. Zinn Rd. Thorndale, PA and it can be viewed on the district’s website, www.casdschools.org.

Community members can share their ideas and suggestions about the budget by emailing them to budgetfeedback18@casdschools.org.

Digital First Media staff writer Lucas Rodgers contributed to this report.

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