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Ringgold budget news good for taxpayers

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 1:06 a.m.

The Ringgold School Board got its first look at a proposed 2013-14 spending plan. And the initial budget proposal was good for taxpayers – requiring no tax hike.

The potential spending plan was introduced by Business Manager Randy Skrinjorich during a finance committee meeting Wednesday at the Roosevelt Administration Building in New Eagle.

The $39,477,474 budget would include an increase of $489,423 in revenue and expenditures. The biggest increase was $372,154 from the state's share of retirement revenue.

The budget estimates an increase of $250,000 in real estate tax collections and an additional $50,000 in delinquent tax collections.

The plan underestimated federal subsidies by more than $230,000, because that revenue has not been finalized, Skrinjorich said.

He said the federal government might increase school-related subsidies between now and June 30, when the final budget must be approved.

The district is in line to save $364,501 in general education teacher salaries because nine teachers are retiring and being replaced by new teachers at the low end of the salary scale. Fringe benefits – which include retirement costs – are slated to rise by $318,841.

The budget saves $317,000 in debt service payments and includes a transfer of $500,000 from the debt service fund to make a bond payment for a project to house future middle school students. The board is proceeding with plans to construct a middle school on the Carroll Township campus where the high school is located.

It would replace Ringgold Middle School – the former Finley Middle School building.

The board has been split on the issue for more than a year, with the current majority favoring new construction over a proposal to renovate the shuttered Monongahela and Donora elementary centers for use as middle schools.

Prior to Skrinjorich's presentation, the board heard the results of an audit conducted by the Cypher & Cypher accounting firm of projected costs associated with renovating and reopening Monongahela and Donora elementary centers compared to building a middle school.

The district administration estimated previously that it would cost $445,000 annually to operate two buildings to house middle school students as opposed to one new structure.

Steven Cypher said the administration's methodology for arriving at that figure was accurate, but conservative.

The additional costs could be slightly higher, taking into consideration everything from additional computer software and building security to added insurance and repair costs, Cypher said.

Director Bob Smith said the figures were skewed because the renovated MEC and DEC buildings would generate less in utility costs. But Cypher said the added staff needed for two buildings would greatly outweigh any energy savings.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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