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Connellsville Area officials, board will start budget talks

| Monday, April 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Connellsville Area School District administrators will meet at 7 p.m. Monday and share preliminary figures for the 2013-14 budget with school board members.

Administrators stress, final numbers for the new budget are far from being finalized or calculated.

Monday's meeting is more of an information meeting, said district business manager Eugene Cunningham. It's to let the board know where the district currently stands.

“We want them to know here is where we are in April, but we still have two months to get to the final budget,” he said. A proposed budget should be passed by the end of May with a final budget needing to be passed by the end of June.

“Over the last couple of years, the board has adopted the proposed budget at their meeting the second week in May, so there's a possibility that they could adopt the proposed budget at that same meeting again this year, which gives us six weeks to get to the final budget numbers,” Cunningham said.

Under the Act 1 index, if the board saw a need, the district would be allowed to raise taxes by 2.5 percent, which is .315 mills.

That would bring in about $350,000 in revenue.

But Cunningham said that from talking with board members, they do not want to see a tax increase in the budget.

The budget is a work in progress. Cunningham said it obviously shows a deficit.

But the business office and administrators are continuing to analyze numbers and accounts to reduce that deficit.

On the revenue side of things, Cunningham said while there aren't any concrete numbers available until the state passes its budget, the estimate the district received as far as state subsidies for basic education is about a $350,000 increase over what it received last year.

Unfortunately, the main challenge on the expenditure side is the pension contribution increase, said Cunningham.

“That's going up 38 percent from last year,” Cunningham said. “Our contribution was (just over 12 percent) this year but it went up to 16.93 percent for this budget.”

Earlier this month, the board received the audit for the 2011-12 school year.

Cunningham said while the district had budgeted a deficit of $4,371,600 for the fund balance at that time, the actual deficit was $3,103,277, which is a difference of $1,268,323.

As of June 30, 2012, the fund balance was $10,720,138, but with the 2012-13 budget operations in place, the district is currently operating with a deficit of just over $3 million.

Cunningham said if the budget holds true, the fund balance at June 30, 2013, should be $7,592,982.

Attempts to reach Superintendent Dan Lujectic were unsuccessful.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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