Board presents first draft of budget
A first draft of Brentwood Borough School District's 2013-14 budget is on display for public viewing. Yet, many of the numbers remain in flux, leaders said.
The budget includes a 6.92 percent increase in costs from 2012-13.
“This is very, very rough. We don't even have cost estimates for many of the things that we're estimating at this time,” Superintendent Ronald Dufalla said.
District officials prepared a proposed preliminary budget early this year to give them flexibility as they work to finalize numbers during the next several months.
“We need the flexibility because things are in a constant state of flux,” Dufalla said.
District officials at their meeting on Monday reviewed a timeline for adopting the $20,805,278 proposed preliminary budget. No vote was taken. The budget is available for public review at district schools and the Brentwood Borough Public Library on Tuesday, Dufalla said.
Brentwood school officials in recent years have agreed to adopt a resolution stating the district will not raise taxes for the upcoming school year above the state-issued index.
Yet, this year, Brentwood officials said there are too many unknowns with the budget and they plan to apply for referendum exceptions from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to allow them to raise taxes above the index.
“This is a working document,” business manager Jennifer Pesanka said.
Referendum exceptions — introduced in 2006 as a part of Act 1, the state law that distributes gambling revenue — must be granted at the state level.
While districts are limited by the state as to how much they can raise their taxes, they can apply for referendum exceptions for specific costs. Brentwood officials plan to apply for exceptions for special education and retirement contributions, Dufalla said.
Officials must use the 2.4 percent 2012-13 index, officials said.
Brentwood officials have stressed that even if granted the exceptions, that still does not mean they will raise taxes. They just want options as they await more final numbers.
Unknowns include state funding for the district, final property values — as many property owners continue to appeal their values due to the reassessments — and health insurance rates, Dufalla said.
“We're still looking at recalculating the millage rate,” Dufalla said.
The school board must vote on the proposed preliminary budget by Feb. 20. The Brentwood Borough School Board likely will vote on the proposed preliminary budget at its Feb. 11 meeting.
“That will put us in line to go for the referendum exceptions and see what happens,” Dufalla said.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.