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Jersey Shore takes first step in budget process

JERSEY SHORE — In what District Board Manager Ben Enders described as the first step required by the state, the Jersey Shore Area School Board approved the proposed 2022-23 general fund budget at their meeting this week. Approval of the final budget must be made by the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

The budget as it stands shows a $1.2 million deficit, which Enders noted is down from the $1.5 million reported last month.

“Your approval of the budget this evening means absolutely nothing other than a legal step in the process,” Enders said.

“The budget will change between now and then. It can go up, it can go down. Revenues can go up, revenues can go down. Expenditures go up, expenditures go down. It’s simply checking the box that the Commonwealth says we have to check,” he added.

The budget as presented showed a tax rate of 25% of the 4.7% index.

Superintendent Brian Ulmer said that amount was chosen at this step in the budget process because it was the closest to last year’s amount.

Under this rate, a property owner in Lycoming County who paid $1,576 in real estate taxes in 2021-22 would pay $1,527 in district real estate taxes for 2022-23, based on a property assessed at $100,000. A property owner in Clinton County, with a property assessed at $100,000, who paid $1,102 for 2021-22, would pay $1,066 for 2022-23. The average assessed value of properties in the district is $90,000.

Ulmer also stressed that these numbers could change leading up to approval of the final budget.

The proposed budget will now be on display for 30 days.

Enders also announced that the district had received a $300,000 increase in the Homestead/Farmstead allocation for residents in the district. The district has 10,000 parcels and of that 4,600 parcels qualify for help in paying their real estate taxes from Homestead/Farmstead monies, which are derived from state gambling taxes.

Under personnel items, the board approved: the non-contractual employee benefits effective for the 2022-23 school; a letter of retirement from Sharon Sechrist, secretary at Jersey Shore Area Elementary School; the appointment of Beth Wrench as a part-time learning support aide at Jersey Shore Area Elementary at $9.42 per hour; a letter of resignation from Levi Cramer, Network-Computer Technician Specialist, effective June 3, and the transfer of Joe Lusk to the position effective June 6 at a salary of $57,000; the appointment of Florence Weaver as a part-time food service substitute at a rate of $9 per hour; Brian Aikey as a bus driver with Susquehanna Transit Co.; and Veronica Sander as a volunteer track and field coach.

The board approved construction of an athletic field shed at a cost of $16,762 and the installation of fencing at the high school at a cost of $4,640. Both projects will be funded through 2021-22 contingency funds.

In addition to approving the 2022-23 proposed general fund budget, under finance the board also approved a contract with Direct Energy to lock in prices for natural gas for three years for the Administration Building and the payroll schedule for the upcoming school year.

A memorandum of understanding between the district and BLaST IU 17 regarding the eQUIP Online Learning Services for the 2022-23 school year. It was noted that eQUIP is the provider for the district’s online courses, which are not taught by the district’s own teachers.

Ulmer said that the district is using fewer courses through eQUIP as the number of courses being taught by district teachers increases.

The next meeting of the board will be at 7 p.m. May 23 at the District Administration Office, 179 A&P Drive.

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