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Connellsville, Southmoreland school boards prepare to vote on budgets

Friday, June 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Connellsville and Southmoreland school boards will be meeting in special session tonight to take action on 2013-14 spending plans.

Neither board is expected to increase real estate taxes for the upcoming year.

Connellsville board will meet at 7 p.m. in the Connellsville Career and Technical Center.

Southmoreland will meet at 7 p.m. in the middle school.

In May, the Connellsville board passed a tentative budget with revenues of $65,502,500 and expenditures of $67,447,400.

The deficit stood at $1,944,900.

At Southmoreland, the tentative spending plan showed expenditures at $26,378,342 and revenues at $25,424,558, which would create a deficit of $953,784.

Millage in the proposed spending plan would be set at 71.0579 mills for Westmoreland County and 14 mills for Fayette County. One mill generates approximately $108,000 for the school district.

Board member Dr. Catherine Fike is taking issue with the handling of funds to cover retirement bonus amounts of $65,000 each paid over six years for four teachers. Fike wanted to ensure the funds would be available for the recent retirees by moving them to the committed category under the budget.

“I made a motion to commit the money through 2019,” said Fike on Wednesday. “It is in the unassigned fund balance. I want to take it out of the unassigned fund balance for the next six years. The board (the six present) would not support that.”

“It only makes sense to me. When you make the commitment, you must guarantee the system will provide it.”

Two years ago, Fike had made a motion to protect a balance of a $4 million obligation to the retired teachers by placing the owed money in a committed fund.

That motion passed.

She said four more teachers retired in 2013 and have been promised $260,000.

Dr. John Molnar, district superintendent, said he was not at the meeting. Molnar said he understood the reason for the motion Fike made.

Molnar said the unassigned fund balance is at a healthy level at present but might be drained by circumstances beyond the control of the board. However, he said the administration is continuing to cut back whenever somewhere is found for more savings, even after the budget is passed. For example, no replacements will be hired for the four retiring teachers. In addition to their salaries, the district will not have to cover various costs at the full amounts. As another example of savings, Molnar said a new contract for copy machine services will free additional money.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kpolacek@tribweb.com or 724-626-3538.

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