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Revised budget drops proposed tax increase for South Butler County schools

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By George Guido
Thursday, May 9, 2013, 1:21 a.m.

There will be no real estate tax increase in the South Butler County School District next year.

The school board on Wednesday night adopted a proposed final budget of $34.2 million for the school year that begins on July 1.

The budget passed by a 6-3 vote. Board members earlier turned down a budget for the same dollar amount, but with a 2-mill tax increase.

Board members Nelda Burd, Debra Miller, Richard Sefton, Matthew Cimbala, Dale Fennell and Linda Reick voted for the revised budget package.

Opposed were Jacqueline Pfeiffer, Richard Roberts and James Jones.

Roberts said after the meeting he always votes against budgets since school districts have to adopt an annual budget by June 30 without knowledge of how much money the state will give the district for the same school year.

Jones took the same position in a recent Valley News Dispatch interview.

Pfeiffer didn't like a staff realignment that included one less business education teacher.

The real estate millage will remain at 93.275 mills.

Without a tax increase, the school district will have to make up the shortfall by taking about $328,500 from the fund balance.

The move will reduce the school district's fund balance to a little more than $2 million.

The new budget will be about $1.4 million more than the 2012-13 budget. Part of the reason for the increase is a 37 percent larger contribution to the state retirement fund, which will total $1.2 million.

School district business manager Debbie Brandstetter said budget details will posted on the school district's website by Monday.

Final budget approval is expected on June 12.

In other business

• The board reappointed the law firm of Dillon, McCandless, King, Coulter & Grahman LLP as solicitor for a $500 per month retainer fee, a hike of $100 per month.

The school district will be billed $160 per hour for all work performed except for bond issues or financings. That's a $5-per-hour increase.

The new school district budget includes $80,000 in legal fees.

• The school board tabled a decision on charging students $50 per year for athletic participation and a $25 fee for those who belong to school-sponsored clubs, such as the band.

The school board will revisit the issue in July. A number of board members and athletic director Mike King had concerns on how the fees would impact extracurricular activities.

If implemented, the fees would put about $61,000 into the school district's coffers.

Officials said residents can comment on the proposal via the school district's website.

• A five-year agreement between the school district and Armstrong Cable for about $19,000 was approved.

The cable company would provide enhanced Internet services for the district. Officials said Armstrong came in about $3,500 less than other providers.

George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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