Calling it a “significant victory,” Hatboro-Horsham School District officials shared that for the next few years, administrators will not have to fret about how much – if any – federal aid will be received for Willow Grove air base.
Robert Reichert, the district’s director of business affairs, said the district has been working for the last few years to “streamline the funding formula” in order to help stabilize payments. During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Reichert said the district did just that.
For this year, Hatboro-Horsham will receive $1.2 million, he said. For 2014 and 2015, the district is “guaranteed” $635,000 or $640,000 minimum.
“We were able to get the past years payments that were due us,” Reichert said of the higher funding amount for 2013.
The subsequent payments are based on what the district received in federal dollars, on average, the past four years, he said. An additional 10 percent is possible the next two years, but is not certain.
If the largely talked about 8 percent to 10 percent across-the-board federal cuts – also known as sequestration – become reality, Reichert said the reduction would likely wipe out most, if not all, of the potential additional impact aid for 2014 and 2015.
Looking ahead, Reichert said the district is concerned about the “gap years” when 862 acres are transferred from the federal government, but not yet developed and thus not netting tax revenues.
Federal impact aid is only paid when properties are federally owned. At a minimum, officials have said the former military base would take 20 years to build out.
“The redevelopment plan, as proposed, will certainly meet and exceed these levels,” Reichert said. “There will be some significant tax revenues.”
The big question, Reichert said, is “when will that be?”
“How long is it going to take … to where it’s actually generating tax revenue,” Reichert asked. “We’ll have to see how it all plays out.”