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School Districts General Fund Balances - Applying for Referendum Exceptions and Increasing Taxes

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Common district practices include adopting policy and/or procedures to reduce the unassigned General Fund balance each year below the PSC threshold to have the ability to increase taxes every year. The districts reduce the unassigned fund balance by designating and/or transferring funds. Conservative budgeting also assists districts in meeting the PSC threshold to raise taxes.

We additionally found districts routinely requested referendum exceptions to increase taxes above the inflationary index with PDE’s approval while having sufficient funds available in its General Fund for the pension obligations and special education costs included in the districts’ respective requests.

We further found that while districts were in compliance with legal requirements for designating General Fund monies as committed or assigned funds, in many cases these funds were not used for their designated purposes over multiple years. Districts increased taxes below, at, or above the index in spite of having these unused unrestricted funds.

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