Greensburg Salem begins annual balancing act, tackles its next budget
The Greensburg Salem school board is beginning budget talks this year with some big decisions and a deficit to tackle.
Business manager James Meyer presented the first draft of the 2013-14 budget during a board meeting this month.
The draft showed expenses topping revenues by about $1.81 million.
One year ago, the directors were facing a projected deficit of $2.6 million.
“I'm just cautiously optimistic,” Director Lee Kunkle said of the next budget. “It will come down to what the state releases. That's the 500-pound gorilla.”
At this point, the state has suggested increasing the basic subsidy to the district by about $162,000, Meyer said.
Director Ron Mellinger Jr. said he has a rosier view of the budget this time, but directors have some additional goals they would like to achieve.
A priority is reducing the number of students in classrooms, especially in elementary grades, Superintendent Eileen Amato said.
This year, as many as 30 students have been in a class.
The 2013-14 budget draft showed $41.37 million in expenses and $39.56 million in revenue. Most of the expense difference from a year ago can be attributed to salary increases, other personnel costs and retirement contributions, which account for nearly $1.38 million, according to the budget presentation.
District officials are projecting about $2.5 million in reserve at the end of the current school year. The reserve totaled about $3.2 million on June 30, 2012.
Directors would have $695,938 left in reserve on June 30, 2014, if they opted to use all the financial reserve to balance the next budget, according to Meyer's presentation.
If directors supported a 1.75-mill increase — the most they are allowed under Act 1 of 2006 — the increase would raise nearly $400,000 in tax revenue and the reserve would retain nearly $1.1 million, according to the presentation.
If directors backed a 1-mill hike, $226,878 in additional revenue would be raised and the estimated reserve would be nearly $923,000.
Directors hiking taxes by 1.5 mills would net $340,317 in revenue and retain about $1 million in reserve.
Under Act 1 school districts can raise the property tax rate each year by a set percentage, or index, that is determined by several economic indicators.
Greensburg Salem's index for the next budget is 2.2 percent, or a maximum 1.75 mills.
The district would save an immediate $219,000 if eight teachers accept an early-retirement package and would still be able to replace those educators, Amato said.
But she cautioned directors that they must view budgets over more than a one-year period, because a retirement package won't be offered next school year.
Over the last few months, the district has benefited from various revenue gains.
The district netted $287,706 in a tax settlement with Columbia Greensburg SPE over the state office building on North Main Street in Greensburg.
The district further garnered about $354,000 in what Meyer called “late-paid taxes” for the 2011-12 school year.
Directors expect to gain about $360,000 through refinancing a 2010 bond. The money must be used for capital improvements.
Directors hiked real estate taxes by 1.72 mills under the 2012-13 budget.
Since 2000-01, directors have hiked millage 27.84 mills — from 52.12 mills for 2000-01 to 79.96 mills for 2012-13.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hempfield Hunt Club to break ground in New Stanton
- Artists showcasing work at Greensburg Art Center’s Snowflake Showcase
- Education program comes full circle at UPG