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UNITED: School directors wrestling with budget deficit

by on April 23, 2014 10:54 AM

ARMAGH — The United School District budget is facing a deficit regardless of its options, according to the school board.

G. Thomas Kalinyak, director of finance, laid out the budget situation to the board during a special session Tuesday at the high school.

According to Kalinyak, the district is facing a $631,454 deficit.

Renovations to the high school approved during Tuesday’s meeting are not included in the proposed budget. These renovations will cost the district approximately $1.4 million over and above what is left in the bond fund.

The district still retains $6.3 million in its fund balance.

One reason for the additional construction costs cited by the board is a moratorium by the state placed on PlanCon reimbursements. Under PlanCon, which is short for the Planning and Construction Workbook, when “a school district undertakes a major construction project and seeks reimbursement from the Commonwealth,” the PlanCon process is initiated.

“We did everything we were required to do, by the numbers, by the book,” said board President Donald Davis, “and at some point in the middle of the PlanCon process … Governor Corbett put a moratorium on those payments.”

According to Kalinyak, the moratorium cost the district approximately $263,000 since June 2013 and will continue to cost the district $178,000 every year after that. As far as he can tell, he said, the moratorium is expected to last at least another year.

“We thought … we would be receiving this amount of money. We did not,” Davis said. “At this particular point, we do not know when, if ever, we will get this money.”

Davis said it is the concern of the board to be fiscally responsible, but in this case, “we did nothing wrong.

“I think the only thing we can do is to contact our representatives and express our concern over the fact that our district was promised this money and we are not receiving it.”

At this point, according to Kalinyak, the board has four options: approving no tax or millage increase, leaving the deficit at $631,454; approving a 1.7 mill increase, which would drop the deficit to $556,642; approving an increase up to the state index of 3 percent, or 2.96 mills, which would drop the deficit to $501,138; or use an exemption from the state and approve a tax increase of 6.16 mills, dropping the deficit to $360,315.

The current millage rate in the district is 98.76. The board is expected to approve a budget at the next regular board meeting on May 13. The budget will then be on display for 28 days until its final approval by the end of June.

Regarding the renovations to the high school, the board approved several motions that will see the high school reconfigured, increasing safety for students and visitors.

In awarding contracts to companies for the renovations, the board approved:

• General construction to BCS Construction Company, of Altoona, for office renovations in the amount of $1,003,000; girls’ restroom renovations in the amount of $26,150; renovation/relocation of the guidance suite and art room in the amount of $130,000; an electrical projection screen in the library in the amount of $2,500; and replacement of exterior windows in the new high school and district offices in the amount of $42,000.

• HVAC construction to Marc-Service Inc., of Windber, for office renovations in the amount of $545,000, girls’ restroom renovations in the amount of $7,046 and renovation/relocation of the guidance suite and art room in the amount of $73,000.

• Plumbing construction to K&K Plumbing, of Johnstown, for office renovations in the amount of $73,697, girls’ restroom renovations in the amount of $20,850 and renovation/relocation of the guidance suite and art room in the amount of $7,418.

• Electrical construction to Bob Biter Electric Enterprises Inc., of Cresson, for office renovations in the amount of $333,300, girls’ restroom renovations in the amount of $3,150, renovation/relocation of the guidance suite and art room in the amount of $35,500, an electrical projection screen in the library in the amount of $2,500 and improvements to the high school auditorium sound system in the amount of $71,700.

• Asbestos abatement to Phase One Development Corp., of Pittsburgh, for office renovations in the amount of $27,500, renovation/relocation of the guidance suite and art room in the amount of $8,500 and replacement of exterior windows in the new high school and district offices in the amount of $4,250.

In addition, the board approved awarding a contract for HVAC commissioning services to Integrated Services & Consultants of Carnegie in the amount of $21,844.

These renovations will see security measures added to the north entrance of the school near the existing library. Parents and visitors will have to “buzz in” to gain access to the school and will be prevented from moving beyond the opening area by security doors. The existing library will be converted to the high school office, and the existing central office will be converted to the new library.



Jeremy Hartley is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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