Bellwood-Antis faces about $1 million deficit in budget

BELLWOOD – Bellwood-Antis school board members have work to do to balance the 2014-15 budget.

“I have bad news, bad news and bad news. I am used to presenting the board with a balanced budget. We have about a $1 million deficit,” business manager/board secretary Kimberly M. VanGorder said Tuesday. “This budget you have includes the maximum [property tax] increase the state will allow: 6.31 mills.”

Even with a 6.31-mill increase in the real estate tax, which would cost the average property owner an additional $72.84, the board faces a deficit of $959,533.

The board could use part or all of its fund balance to help balance the budget.

“My philosophy is not to use the fund balance. That would not be my recommendation. If we use the fund balance this year, we will have nothing next year, nothing,” VanGorder said.

The administrative staff plans to meet Tuesday to go through the budget line by line.

“We need to pull together and work together as a team to reduce that deficit. We need voices of reason,” said Superintendent Brian Toth. “We will need to talk about personnel, programs and class size. We must do what we can do to preserve as many programs as we can.”

Board members had planned to approve a final proposed budget Tuesday but have pushed that back to May 20. Plans now call for final adoption June 24.

Board member Robert Fisher, a retired middle school principal who is working on the budget for the first time from the board side, said the board needs to come up with a longterm plan to handle the budget crisis.

“We are lacking a long-range plan. If we just look at next year, this will be the same. A long-range plan would give us some stability,” Fisher said. “We need to start the process much earlier in the future. I need the information sooner to make the decisions. We are behind the eight ball right now.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.