LMSB adopts tentative budget; not tax hike
MANDATA - Property taxes will not increase under the terms of a tentative budget adopted unanimously Tuesday by the Line Mountain School Board.
Revenue for the 2014-15 school year are estimated at $17,621,375, falling short of estimated expenses totaling $18,799,118. Money from the district's existing surplus account will be used to erase the $1,177,743 budget deficit.
Compared to the current school year, revenue is predicted to rise by $486,515 and expenses by $1,562,658.
Line Mountain was eligible for a property tax hike of 3.47 mills, which included a 1.37 mill state exemption above the maximum increase to account for retirement contributions. Such a move would have added an additional $3.47 for each $1,000 of assessed value onto property tax bills.
Without an increase the property tax rate remains 70 mills, or $70 on each $1,000 of assessed property value.
A final budget is expected to be adopted at the June 10 board meeting, ahead of the state's June 30 deadline.
The preliminary budget adopted in January projected a deficit of $964,118. That was whittled down to $127,743 with decreases in health insurance and benefits costs, bond refinancing and an anticipated increase in state subsidies.
The projected deficit rose on account of adding another $700,000 in spending, including $610,000 to account for retroactive salary owed to teachers when a new contract is settled. Should the contract remain unsettled in 2014-15, the money would roll over into the next year's budget until an agreement is reached.
Another $350,000 was transferred into the capital reserve account. Those funds will make up for temporary savings realized from bond refinancing and be used for building repairs, according to business manager Phil Rapant.
In spite of the district's efforts to reduce projected spending since January, the increased cost of retirement contributions and employee health care still totals a combined 1,180,000 compared to 2013-14.
Superintendent David Campbell made a point of showing that the district's spending has fallen short of the 2010-11 budget for three straight years. Should the projected expenses remain the same when a final budget is adopted in June, 2014-15 would mark the fourth straight year.
"Nothing is cheaper now than it was five years ago," Campbell said.
Since then, the district closed two buildings while renovating two others and lost 13 teachers, two administrators and several custodial and secretarial staff members, Campbell said.
The 2010-11 school year was the last before Gov. Tom Corbett took office. Government subsidies decreased dramatically the following year, although the state GOP points to the Rendell administration and the anticipated expiration of a federal subsidy used to inflate government subsidies.
The Corbett administration says state subsidies have never been as high as they have been during the current governor's term. However, Campbell said increases in funding for cyber schools and charter schools have prevented public schools from benefitting.