Norwin projects $2M funding gap
Norwin's director of business affairs braced school board members Monday night for a projected $2 million gap in the 2013-14 budget.
John Wilson will now prepare a more precise preliminary budget for school directors to review. They could consider sending that budget to Harrisburg in January, requesting an OK to hike taxes more than the “index,” which is a state-imposed maximum.
“The benefit to passing the preliminary budget in December or January, it gives you the flexibility that if you want to or need to when it gets to May or June, you can look at those index exceptions. (It) doens't mean you have to do it (raise taxes),” Wilson said. “ ... At this point, we have no idea what the governor's going to propose.”
The state-set limit for a tax increase in Norwin next school year is 1.5 mills, which would generate about $550,000.
Wilson said the district could ask for an exception from that limit under two conditions: retirement costs and special education costs.
If approved, school directors could add an additional tax hike of 1.6 mills to cover retirement and 0.8 mills to cover special education, adding up to a total of 3.9 mills, Wilson said.
Wilson said his preliminary figures are “conservative.”
“It's worst-case scenario,” he said. ... “With November coming along, we're getting close to the deadline where we want to decide if we want to to do a preliminary budget.”
He projects an increase in costs of $3 million but only a $1 million increase in revenue, leaving a $2 million hole.
Several expenses are expected to rise, he said -- debt service, salaries, health insurance, Social Security and retirement.
The district maintains about $4 million in its unreserved fund balance, which could be used to fund ballooning costs.
“It's really the next three years where we have to worry about the retirement stuff, and if we can somehow mitigate that ... with our fund balance that would help,” Wilson said.
Wilson attributes financial woes to costs of charter schools and retirement, along with the recession and a loss of stimulus money.
Superintendent William Kerr said administrators talk about the budget “weekly, if not daily.”
Officials cut more than $2 million from the budget over the last two years, he said. And, he said, making cuts while preserving education can become a tough task.
“We've reduced a lot from our budget the last two years,” Wilson said, “and so it gets more and more difficult as we move forward.”
The district this school year is operating on a budget of $58.9 million. The school board voted in June to raise taxes 1.45 mills, helping to plug a budget gap. Despite the increase, the district's tax rate is the lowest in the county.
Rossilynne Skena is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 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.