Tonight, Tuesday, September 20th is the TESD Finance Committee meeting, 7 PM at the TE Administration Offices, 940 W Valley Rd # 1700, Wayne, PA . Residents encouraged to attend — your voices do matter!
With an agenda of 110 pages, the community is fortunate to have residents willing to review the information in advance of meetings. Ray Clarke provides the following commentary regarding the agenda (click here for agenda).
There are a couple of items that the community might want to pay particular attention to in the light of the recent injunction ordering Lower Merion School District to roll back this year’s tax increase.
To recap, the Montgomery County judge found that LMSD (quoting from the injunction) deliberately over-estimated deficits, failed to predict surpluses, represented to PDE that costs for Special Education and retirement could not be covered without a tax increase, and transferred Fund Balance to assigned accounts to avoid the statutory cap of 8% of the annual budget while still raising taxes. The judge found that LMSD’s Fund Balance commitments were funded out of the budget each and every year.
These findings will seem very familiar to those following the affairs of TESD. Moving to the agenda:
Item 6, Bond Discussion: TESD is considering repayment of $18 million of higher interest bonds – arguably a sensible move – but by issuing yet more bonds at mostly 4%, when there is $32 million of taxpayer money sitting in the General Fund, supposedly “committed”, earning about 0.75%.
Item 7, Capital Funding/Fund Balance: Seemingly to support this plan (only one option is presented), the district is re-publishing its Fund Balance Policy and Regulation (not always consistent with each other), along with the commitments from 2015/16, presumably to establish commitments for 2016/17. There is no analysis of the capital spending plan.
A couple of questions:
– Does TESD plan to continue the Fund Balance fiction that brought judicial sanction on LMSD?
– Are we going to borrow another $18 million we don’t need at the second “generationally low rates” in two years? (About a percentage point lower than those last generationally low rates). And pay underwriters and lawyers $150,000?