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Hempfield Area OKs tentative plan for 2013-14 budget

| Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Hempfield Area school directors are dipping into their cash reserves to balance the 2013-14 budget, but that infusion of cash is not enough to stave off a 1.5-mill tax increase.

The school board on Monday adopted a tentative budget that relies on $2.6 million from the surplus to balance the $84.2 million spending package. Revenue projections are $81.5 million.

A vote on the final budget will be conducted in June.

The millage rate would increase to 73.62 mills and generate more than $1 million in additional property taxes, according to Business Manager Jude Abraham. Each mill generates $596,000 in revenue.

“This is where we're at,” Abraham said.

Property taxes account for more than $43.3 million in revenue for the district, according to the budget.

Increases in health care for employees and pension contributions are putting a strain on the budget, he said. Abraham said it will cost taxpayers $800,000 more for health insurance and $972,000 in pension payments to the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System.

Hempfield has cash reserves of $9.1 million that will shrink to $6.5 million by the end of the 2013-14 school year, Abraham said.

“We'll still have a very healthy fund balance.”

The district has been cutting expenses during the past several years. Earlier this year, the board voted to close the Bovard Elementary School and will shut down Crossroads, an alternative school for students who have trouble adapting to a normal classroom environment.

The closing will save the district $700,000.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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