Shaler Area duscusses district budget
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Shaler Area school board members discussed various ways to fund the $351,854 difference between revenues and expenditures in the proposed preliminary 2012-2013 budget at their work session Wednesday evening.
Business affairs director Charles Bennett presented a short power point presentation on the $71,657,993 budget, detailing various ways to fill the gap. They included further reductions to line items, programs and staff; using the reserve fund or raising taxes.
When offering to use the district's $1,330,696 fund balance, Mr. Bennett warned: "It's a one-time revenue source." Even if the board chooses this approach now, he added, "I don't think we can get away without a tax increase next year."
Board president James Giel questioned whether using the fund balance was financially responsible, considering the fact that the district's retirement costs are expected to increase by 16 percent next year.
Fellow board members James Fisher and Domenic Donovan agreed with Mr. Giel. Mr. Donovan suggested ignoring the looming increase in retirement costs was "like burying our heads in the sand."
Mr. Bennett presented the option of raising millage by a quarter of a mill. This amounts, according to Mr. Giel, to about $25 on a $100,000 property.
Mary Lou Dixon asked if it was possible to earmark any millage increase for retirement costs. Solicitor Matt Hoffman told her it could be done.
Jeanne Petrovich said that raising taxes is a bad idea because the board and administration is continuing to negotiate a new teachers' contract. She, along with fellow board member John Fries, agreed that the public cannot bear a tax increase at this time. "I don't feel comfortable taking money and stockpiling it away." They as well as several other board members agreed that declining student population, which now stands at 4,750 students, means the district no longer needs 391 teachers.
Currently, the district still has no contract with its teachers, which several board members pointed out leaves them without any hard and fast salary numbers. The continuing teacher negotiations, as well as staff reductions, according to board member Dean Ingold, have to be discussed in executive sessions closed to the public. The board closed their meeting and went directly to executive session.
First Published June 13, 2012 10:58 pm