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Mt. Pleasant school board begins budget talks

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 7:39 a.m.

Mt. Pleasant Area School Board on Monday will consider options it has under Act 1 in determining the millage rate that the board can consider for the 2013-14 budget which will have to be adopted this summer.

Two options will be considered — allowing the board to possibly raise the present millage rate of 79.78 mills to 81.61 mills, increasing the rate to the state-set guidelines which equal 1.83 mills, or an increase of 2.3 percent, or agree to the early adoption of a budget which would possibly qualify as an exception to the Act 1 ceiling of the 2.3 percent increase.

Superintendent Terry Struble explained if the second option is chosen, 3.298 mills would be the highest increase allowed.

“My advise would be to fill the early budget,” Struble said. “Then you would have the opportunity to go higher if the fiscal budget does not work and if the state does not give us more funding. You would then have the room locally to minimize the impact.”

In November, a tentative budget outline was presented, showing the potential of a $1,555,000 deficit that the board might face. Adjustments in areas such as transportation, proposed health care increases, bond savings and one retirement brought that number down to $1,265,000.

“We were able to find almost $300,000 in adjustments,” Struble said. “Advice to us has always been to be patient.”

“Last year there was no raise in millage and we made the budget work,” Struble said, adding that it would be wise to have a cushion and having the option to raise the millage is something to consider for the upcoming budget talks.

“We don't want people to say that we are crying wolf because we are trying to budget conservatively, but we do not want to be in the state of having to find money that is not there,” Struble said.

The board on Monday will also vote on the installation of additional video surveillance equipment in the elementary schools and administrative buildings at a cost of $49,889.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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