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Potential Southmoreland School District budget shows no tax increase

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

As work continues on the Southmoreland School District budget for the 2013-2014 school year, the potential deficit continues to be sliced.

In fact, it was mentioned at a special meeting held by the board March 21 that the spending plan in its current form does not include a tax increase.

Furthermore, interim business Manager Bill McNamee said the deficit now stands at a little more than $600,000. Originally, the district was facing a $1.6 million deficit. At the board's March 7 meeting, McNamee said that number had been reduced to $1.2 million.

McNamee explained there were a number of factors that led to those reductions:

• One is that four district professional employees will take the offer of an early retirement incentive, which will result in a savings of a little more than $300,00.

• The increase in medical insurance will not be as high as expected chopping another $127,0000 off the expenditure list.

• Adjustments came in the area of utilities, saving about $128,000.

“We looked at utilities more in line with what their actual usage was versus what we had originally projected,” McNamee said.

Other miscellaneous adjustments reduced the deficit about another $2,300.

Superintendent John Molnar reminded that work will continue before a final budget is passed.

“We still have some things we will be looking at on the expense side,” Molnar said.

The board will have another meeting on the budget, but did not set a date March 21. The date for the budget meeting will be determined when the board meets April 4.

Also, former business Manager Bill Porter explained to the board how past Early Retirement Incentive packages helped the district and resulted in more money in the fund balance.

The figure Porter presented was a $4,160,000 net increase in the fund balance after the incentives were added.

Since the 2006-2007 fiscal year, 41 teachers accepted the package and only 25 were replaced.

He also lauded the district for basically breaking even, even though $1.9 million in revenues were lost due to the closing of the Sony plant (which resulted in a $900,000 shortfall in revenues) and the loss in $1 million in state subsidies.

“You broke even because we made a decision to put ERIs (Early Retirement Incentives) out and control costs and downsize,” Porter said.

“A school district loses $1.9 million in revenue and breaks even — that's pretty outstanding.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or