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Latrobe officials stress retirement needs

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Greater Latrobe School District officials stressed the impact of contributions to state employee retirement benefits in a preliminary budget report that shows rising figures.

Superintendent Judith Swigart and business administrator Dan Watson explained the increasing contributing obligation to Public School Employees' Retirement System, or PSERS, rose 230 percent from 2005-2006 school year to the upcoming 2013-2014 school year.

“I think that what we wanted to present tonight that something we have no control over is impacting our budget significantly, but I believe that we collectively have done a very good job trying to decrease those actual expenditures,” she said.

The district is projecting a budget of $49,624,186 that will be voted on as a proposed final budget at the May 28 meeting.

Any changes to property tax millage rates have not yet been decided, Swigart said.

Without the PSERS requirements, the district's budget decreased by 0.76 percent from $46,304,768 in 2012-2013.

However, once the retirement benefits are included in the budget, it will reflect a $664,489 increase from the 2012-2013 school year, Watson said.

PSERS contributions account for an increase of $1,018,106 in the budget, while all other areas reflect a decrease of about $353,000, Watson said.

The preliminary budget includes retirement of 13 teachers, who will all be replaced, accounting for a $300,000 savings, he said.

State and federal funding, as well as special education funding and student enrollment, are not yet known to provide how those numbers will affect the final budget, Watson said.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said. “Hopefully, it's something our state government will step up and come up with a solution for.”

Other budget savings have come from measures taken in the finance, technology, special education and transportation departments.

Board member Eric Hauser commented that residents should take their concerns about the state-regulated PSERS effects to state legislators, not just board members.

“They need to go to Harrisburg,” he said. “Don't get off the bus in Latrobe, get off the bus in Harrisburg.”

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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