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Mt. Pleasant Area faces $800K deficit for 2013-14

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Mt. Pleasant Area School Board members will be asked next week to approve a tentative 2013-14 budget with a more than an $800,000 deficit.

Business Manager Tim Caudill said the district expects a $829,000 deficit, down from the $1.1 million deficit about a month ago.

“There's not a whole lot left to find as far as any change in expenditures,” he said. “We may see some changes in our favor through state funding on the revenue side, but without making cuts, it doesn't look like this number's going to fall much below the $600,000 to $700,000 mark.

The fund balance for the beginning of the 2013-14 fiscal year is projected to be about $1.5 million. If the board decides to use some of that money to balance the tentative budget, the fund balance would be about $670,000 for the start of the 2014-15 school year, Caudill said.

Under Act 1 guidelines, the board would be able to raise taxes by 1.83 mills. An increase would generate about $250,000 for the district.

Caudill said that over the last 10 years, the board has raised taxes only twice, which averaged out to a 0.8 percent increase annually over the period.

“We were only one of three districts in Westmoreland County who kept their taxes flat last year,” he said.

Directors don't have to pass a final budget until June 30.

Caudill said it is not unusual to pass a proposed budget that has a deficit.

Also Tuesday, representatives from Nutrition Inc. addressed board members about the food program budget for the 2013-14 school year.

Kelly Patterson, regional manager for Nutrition Inc., said that based on a 5 percent increase in food costs, the district will face about a $43,000 deficit if it retains the same amount of employees and doesn't increase the cost of school meals.

She said that over the last three years, the district has had an overall decrease in meals, including lunch, breakfast and a la carte, of 6 percent, which she said necessitates a decrease in labor.

If the district were to cut three breakfast positions at the elementary level, it would face a deficit in the food program of just over $14,000.

If the district were to cut those same three positions and increase meal prices by 5 cents, it would have a deficit in the food program of just over $7,000.

If the district were to cut the three breakfast positions and increase meals by 10 cents, it would break even, she said.

During next week's meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the administration building, directors will be asked to approve several supplemental positions; to appoint a board treasurer; to appoint a board secretary; to approve the contract renewal with Nutrition Inc.; and to reschedule the June 18,workshop meeting to 7:30 p.m. June 17.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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