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Westmoreland

Greensburg Salem OKs preliminary budget with $670K gap

Jacob Tierney
| Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Greensburg Salem School Board members have a smaller budget gap to close than they have in recent years, though there is still a significant shortage.

The $44.7 million preliminary 2017-18 budget, passed 5-3 by the board Wednesday, has a deficit of about $670,000.

The maximum allowable tax increase, 2.88 mills, would bring the deficit below $12,000.

The maximum 2.88-mill increase this year would add $47.26 to the average district property owner's tax bill.

The board has raised property taxes in 16 of the last 17 years.

Although the board is required to vote on a preliminary budget that will be presented to the public, it is not a final product. Board members say the budget can and most likely will undergo significant changes before a final budget is passed next month.

Board members Jeffrey Metrosky, Rick Payha and Robin Savage voted against the preliminary budget, saying they couldn't accept such a large deficit.

“It's a budget with a $600,000 deficit,” Metrosky said.

“Exactly. It needs a lot of work, so ‘no,' ” Savage said.

Board President Ron Mellinger said he approved the preliminary budget as a starting point but would not accept a large deficit in the final product.

Overall, expenses are expected to go up about $1.3 million.

That's a little less than in the first draft of the budget, presented to the board last month. The district has since decided not to replace two full-time and one part-time instructional staff members and plans to save about $90,000 by postponing an elementary school curriculum upgrade.

The preliminary budget does not include a tax increase, but district Business Manager Jim Meyer cautioned that if the board does not raise taxes, it could be facing a more significant gap in 2018.

The district agreed to a new teacher contract last year, which calls for salary increases in the 2018-19 school year.

If the district does not reduce its budget deficit now, it risks a larger one in the future, Meyer said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

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