School board reverses course with no-tax-hike budget plan

After approving a tentative 2013-14 budget with a 0.15 mill tax increase a month ago, the Loyalsock Township School District came back Wednesday night with a proposed final budget that did not include a tax hike.

The school board voted 7-0 to approve the proposal, which would require the district to use unassigned fund balance to make up a deficit of $102,161. Gerald McLaughlin, business manager, explained that if the district still would have included a 0.15 mill increase in real-estate taxes, the deficit would be $161.

McLaughlin said he was confident that the district could once again make up a $100,000 deficit in the coming year after doing so this school year. The district made up a $127,442 deficit this past year.

“In my opinion, we will at least break even,” McLaughlin told the board.

William Carlucci, board member, wondered if the district could make up the deficit if there were more utility expenses because of a harsher winter. Robert Grantier, superintendent, said the district would be covered under such circumstances.

“We’re comfortable with the $100,000 next year. We think we can make that up,” Grantier said.

A clearer picture of expense and revenue numbers allowed the district to feel comfortable with not including a tax increase in the proposed final budget, McLaughlin said.

The board also approved the BlaST Intermediate Unit 17 contract Wednesday, which McLaughlin said was lower than they originally had expected. He also said the district has done a good job of “living within our means.”

He added that some of the district’s estimates still are “conservative” and it would continue to monitor figures as they come available.

“At this point in time, we may still make a few more changes,” he said.

In other business, the board approved the district to purchase 250 “sled-based chairs” and holding carts. The chairs are needed for graduation as folding chairs with legs would pierce the football field’s turf. The purchase cost the district $10,946 and would come out of the capital reserve fund.