CASD to Mull Tax Hike

(GantDaily Graphic)

CLEARFIELD – After its second budget work session Monday night, the Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors realized a tax hike will be inevitable while still facing a more than $1 million deficit for 2010-11.

“We took a zero (tax increase) last year, and it worked out OK,” said Dave Glass, board president. “But if we do it again this year, I think we’re looking at a big hit next year.”

Superintendent Dr. Richard C. Makin concurred that Clearfield taxpayers would likely see an increase. He also noted it was important for board members to give it another week of consideration.

“It’s not going to be a zero. I don’t see that,” he said. Business Administrator Sam Maney indicated they could not increase their millage beyond the maximum 3.56 percent, which has been set for them for the upcoming year.

Maney also indicated a mill equals approximately $117,000. He said if they raised taxes to the previously stated maximum limit, it would come out in the area of $415,000.

Heading into the work session, Maney said the district faced just under a $1.3 million deficit. He said the revised budget called for total expenditures in the amount of $33.7 million and an expected revenue total of $32.4 million.

Maney said they expected to receive $12.1 million in local revenue and $18.7 million in state revenue. He said the federal revenue remained the same at $1.6 million.

Under state revenue, Maney said he reduced the governor’s 5.2 percent increase to just 3 percent for the current proposed Basic Ed subsidy.

“Everything is conservative here,” Makin said. “It could only get better from here.”

Maney said he believed it’s best to be conservative so they don’t spend money that’s not necessarily available to them.

According to a prior GantDaily report, Maney pulled the figures from the governor’s proposal in March. He said then they were anticipating a 5.2 percent increase, according to that proposal. He said it came out to a little more than $13 million.

“Do you really think it’ll stay at 5.2 (percent),” Glass asked of Maney at the April 21 budget work session. “Don’t you think that it’ll be negotiated?”

Agreeing with Glass, Makin said he also believed it was a little risky. Maney said then he could reduce the district’s budgeted amount to 2 percent if they preferred for him to do so. Makin instructed him to hold off until they had reviewed the entire budget.

Later in that meeting, Maney again called the board’s attention to the Basic Ed subsidy. He inquired about how the board wanted to proceed with a budgeted percentage.

Glass suggested they reduce the percentage to 3 percent. Makin said he believed it was the correct move, stating many issues could impact the budget in Harrisburg.

Under expenditures, Maney directed the board’s attention to the electricity line item. He said they have currently computed the budget with a 20 percent increase for the same. He said he would have additional information from Premier Power Solutions next week.

Maney said the board must also consider the proposed expenditures for the 2011-12 year while hashing out the present budget. As of now, he said they’re determining the absolute necessities that cannot be avoided.

Rick Bunning, director of buildings and grounds, said they’ll be looking at roof repairs/preservation at Clearfield Elementary and bridge repairs coming out of the school near Mount Joy.

He also said they have structural repairs in sight at the high school, including defects in the pool. He said they will also need stadium lighting.

Bunning said he wasn’t even touching on the building issues at both Bradford Elementary and the Clearfield Middle School. He said they’re presently holding off with current problems with the boilers at the high school.

“We’re trying to hold off. We’re trying to baby it along as much as we can,” he said. Glass said they needed to keep an eye on the aforementioned building issues at the district’s facilities.

Glass said they needed to cut into the capital reserve. He said it is “nice to have” but should be reduced in half to $250,000. Maney then asked if the board was satisfied with that reduction, or if they preferred to scale it further to $200,000.

Glass suggested they opt to reduce the capital reserve to $250,000 for at least the first round of cuts. He said they anticipated a $400,000 loss last year but are now expecting leftover funding. He suggested they could perhaps dip into it.

Maney said he preferred not to tighten the budget further in case of an unexpected expense during the upcoming year. He sad the board must be responsible while working through the budget process. Glass then suggested they make a reduction to the amount in the contingency funding.

Maney again said it was important for the district to have that funding available throughout the year. He said, “The more you sharpen the pencil, the more important those funds are.”

Although he said it was a topic “no one wants to talk about,” Glass sought projections for a recommended tax hike. Makin said he preferred they take a week to think it over rather than throw out projections.

The board has tentatively scheduled its third budget work session for 6 p.m., Wednesday, May 12 at the Clearfield Middle School library.

Maney said the board must approve a preliminary budget in May. He said it will then go on display for 30 days. He said the budget will be up for final approval at the June 21 board meeting.

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