The Jim Thorpe Area School Board tentatively approved the 2013-2014 proposed budget at 45.52 mills, with a 1 mill increase.
The vote passed 5 to 3, with one member absent. Board members Dr. Clement McGinley, Robert Schaninger, Randall Smith, William Allison, and John Partenio voted yes on the budget.Opposed were Pearl Downs-Sheckler, John Ciavarella, and Gerald Strubinger. Dennis McGinley was absent.
Partenio stated, "The average assessed value in our school district is about $50,000 and a one mill increase would be $50 that would increase on your taxes."
The total estimated expenses are $37,344,665. The total estimated revenue from local sources (including a one mill increase), state sources, and federal sources are $35,958,832.
"We are already at a deficit of $1.3 million and where we are getting that money from will be taken from what we call our fund balance," said Partenio.
There is approximately $6 million in the fund balance.
Partenio discussed that the pensions are increasing every year.
"The state changes our percentages that we have to contribute, " he said.
He added that the board will be faced with challenges because the pensions are rising over the next few years.
"It will be well over a million dollars that we are going to be confronted with."
Partenio stated that the board has been looking into other sources of revenue.
He added that the board looked at cuts in areas including supplies and electricity savings.
Strubinger commented, "I vote no new taxes."
He added that he felt the board should use more of the fund balance to make up the budget.
Smith stated, "In three years if we continue to tap that reserve, that fund balance, this board will be looking at some difficult decisions."
He mentioned some of the difficult decisions could be cutting programs.
"Because you won't have the money and you will have a limit on how much taxation you can raise," stated Smith.
He added, that he thinks it is better to make a small increase now instead of having to cut programs later.
A resident made a comment stating that they would rather take a little hit now then take a huge hit later.
Partenio stated that the board wasn't cutting programs or jobs.
Schaninger presented the board with information about possible savings dealing with transportation for the future. He stated that he will look into the idea further.
The budget will be on display for residents of the Jim Thorpe Area School District.
The proposed budget needs to have a final vote by June 30.