Mount Carmel Area board OKs budget, but after removal of tax increase
MOUNT CARMEL - The Mount Carmel Area School Board passed the district's 2014-15 proposed final operating budget Thursday night, but only after a one-mill tax increase was taken off the table.
The board needed a second vote on the $17,490,924.73 budget after its first vote failed 4-5 when it included the tax increase, which would have generated an additional $69,000 in revenue, according to district business office administrative assistant Corrine Lesko.
Most of the debate took place in a work session that delayed the start of the regular meeting by 25 minutes. At that point, seven board members were in attendance, with members Robert Muldowney and Raymond Kraynak absent.
Board president Thomas Ditchey called for an
executive session for personnel matters, which took another five minutes. When the meeting reconvened, Muldowney and Kraynak participated by speakerphone.
Michael Rovito made a motion for approval with the tax increase, with Muldowney seconding. William Brecker and Tony Mazzatesta joined Rovito and Muldowney with yes votes, but Michael Brinkash, Ditchey, Donna James, Kraynak and Joseph Zanella voting no.
Ditchey then asked for another motion on the same $17.5 million budget, with no property tax increase. Brecker made the motion, seconded by Zanella. That budget passed on a 5-4 vote with Brinkash, Zanella, Ditchey, James and Mazzatesta voting yes, and Brecker, despite his motion, Kraynak, Muldowney and Rovito voting no.
Instead of the tax increase, the budget will be balanced by taking $600,000 from the district's assigned fund balance and $174,485.34 from its unassigned fund balance to eliminate a $774,000 shortfall. Not as much would have been taken from the unassigned fund balance had the tax increase passed.
The transfers leave the district with $2.5 million in its fund balance and $1,072,402.66 in the unassigned fund.
Per the Pennsylvania School Code, the budget will be advertised and available for inspection for the next 30 days, with final passage coming at the June board meeting. To accommodate the inspection period, the board will move the date of June's meeting to Monday, June 30.
Next year's budget of $17,490,924.73 is approximately $835,000 more than the current budget, with more than $700,000 of that attributed to pension and health care cost increases.
In other business, the board unanimously approved the district's athletic fund budget of $185,350 and the cafeteria fund's budget of $1,003,337.72.