Weatherly district sees $400K in net transportation savings
An updated report on the district’s transportation costs highlighted an otherwise routine caucus meeting of the Weatherly Area school board Wednesday evening.
Business Manager Peter Bard provided the board with an updated report on the money the district spent on transportation over the past three school years. The figures show not only a drop in the total expenses from 2016-17 to 2017-18 of $223,000, but a more than 50 percent increase in the estimated state subsidy for transportation, which translates to $190,000, bringing the net savings to the district of more than $400,000.
“The changes that were made certainly saved the district a load of money and probably saved a teaching position or two,” Bard said.
Immediately after Bard completed his report, board member Brian O’Donnell asked, “These savings aren’t just going into the general fund, are they? This is going to go to pay down the deficit, correct?”
Bard assured the board that the funds were doing just that.
The district is operating with a deficit of approximately $670,000, due primarily to the increased costs of the district’s required contribution to the teacher’s retirement system, as well as increases in health insurance costs for teachers.
In other business, the board agreed to follow Bard’s recommendation to approve a 10-year extension of the Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone designation for the Exeter Property Group on land located in Kidder Township. The extension would begin at the beginning of the construction of a planned warehouse facility on Route 940.
Though the property is still owned by Blue Ridge Real Estate, Exeter is hoping to purchase the land with the extension in place so it can enjoy the full 10 years of tax forgiveness while it builds and recruits tenants for its facility.
Bard said the property is an undeveloped wooded lot which currently generates no tax revenue for the district. Board members O’Donnell and William Knepper said that they were under the impression that the district was receiving approximately $4,000 per year in property tax revenue from that land. Knepper indicated that representatives from Exeter gave that impression during its presentation to the board in June.
“If they said that, they were mistaken,” Bard said.
Board member Matthew vonFrisch added, “Even if we were collecting $4,000 on it, I would rather forgo that money in the hopes of creating a couple hundred jobs for people.”
All board members were present, with the exception of Gerard Grega, who attended the meeting via speakerphone.