HASD releases ’14-15 preliminary budget

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Hollidaysburg Area School District has a preliminary budget, and every dollar has been displayed and explained by district administration, board members said, with transparency some said is unlike any other year.

“In my two and a half years, I never saw the budget spelled out the way it is now,” board president Ron Yoder said. “I think our staff is doing a great job.”

For months, Super

intendent Bob Gildea and business managers Rob Roberts and Susan Baker have delivered budget presentations to inform the board and public on each aspect of the district’s budget.

However, few members of the public have attended board meetings.

“I invite the community to come out,” Vice President Troy Keefer said after a Wednesday meeting that drew no members of the public.

“It’s a breath of fresh air having [Roberts and Baker] running the show.”

Roberts and Baker presented a slideshow presentation of the district’s entire preliminary 2014-15 budget on Wednesday.

Some highlights from the budget presentation were:

– The district’s revenue has increased $985,000 over the current budget. The main reason for the increase is a real estate assessment increase for new properties in Allegheny Township and Hollidays

burg Borough including the former Hollidaysburg Car shop that now houses open businesses.

– The state’s subsidy to the district remains equal to levels supplied to the district in 2008.

– Expenditures have increased $835,000 over the current budget. That increase is almost completely because of district contributions the state requires to fund the Public School Employee Retirement System.

– The district has saved money in areas including employee health care, supplies, natural gas consumption and gasoline and diesel fuel consumption.

– The district’s fund balance is currently $6.3 million.

– As the preliminary budget stands, the district is looking at a $44.6 million budget with a deficit of $308,243. That deficit may be reduced or eliminated if the board chooses to raise taxes. Raising taxes by 1.5 mills would reduce the deficit to $16,644.

The effect on the average taxpayer would be $22 more dollars per year, or $1.87 more per month than their current tax bill. If the district raises taxes to the maximum allowed by the state, then the district’s deficit would be eliminated. Instead, the district would have a surplus of $177,756. The effect on the average taxpayer would be $37 more dollars per year or $3.11 more per month than their current tax bill.

– The district faces a $1 million deficit in the 2015-16 school year, and it continues to face annual deficits through 2017-18.

Saved funds will offset part of those annual deficits, but the district would have no money by the end

of 2018 without raising taxes.

Roberts said that is a conservative projection.

Based on that projection, the district needs to raise 14.37 tax mills through 2018.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.