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Mt. Pleasant director seeking cost-saving measures for district

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 8:21 p.m.

Mt. Pleasant school director Dave Brooks is hoping the administration will begin looking into different cost-saving measures as the district prepares to start the budget preparation process in January.

Brooks said the board will have to make a decision by Jan. 31 whether the district will stay within the Act 1 index as far as a possible tax increase for the 2013-14 school year.

As a way of making money or possibly saving money, Brooks listed several items, including the possibility of having a company buy the district's delinquent taxes.

“I think we should solicit a full board presentation by any one of the organizations who purchase delinquent taxes,” he said. “I think we need to find out the pros and cons, and I think if we can sell these delinquent property taxes, it could be a tremendous windfall.”

Brooks also suggested the district look into paying for its share of improvements at the Westmoreland County Career and Technology Center from its capital improvement fund rather than the general fund. That amount is set at $85,000.

Brooks also asked the administration to revisit the closing of Rumbaugh Elementary School “if it makes sense.”

“I'm not saying we should close it just to close it, but I think we should look and see if it makes sense,” he said.

Brooks said the approximate 15 acres the district owns at that school site could be a valuable piece of commercial property.

“We have to plan, but we have to know what it's worth,” Brooks said. “We need to get a commercial Realtor in here, and we've got to be more creative in how we stream money into the district.”

Brooks praised the board for its decision to look into refinancing bonds, which could potentially save the district $70,000 to $80,000 a year for the next several years.

Directors recently passed a resolution to retain the services of Janney Montogmery Scott LLC as managing underwriter and to appoint Dinsmore & Shohl LLP as bond counsel in considering refinancing the district's general obligation bonds, series 2008.

District Superintendent Terry Struble said the resolution would have the companies continue the process of refinancing the bonds as long as the district would have a minimum savings of $450,000 over the life of the general operating budget.

“The district has already started some initiatives, but I think we also need to look at offering another retirement incentive,” Brooks said. “I would not vote for exceeding the index in January because I think we can balance the budget without it.”

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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