officials, realizing that some tough challenges lie ahead, are already planning for next year’s budget.
John Sheline, administrative liaison, outlined a budget timeline Tuesday night along with the scenario that board members must consider, such as the significant increase in costs the district must pay into the state retirement system, known as PSERS.
Sheline said the Act 1 deadlines for schools have been moved up based on the presidential election, which means school board members will have to decide in December whether to stay within a 1.7 percent index cap or present a preliminary budget for public view without knowing state budget figures.
Sheline plans to update the board on the budget next month before presenting a proposal in December at a meeting usually reserved for the board's reorganization. The board has to allow 20 days for public inspection before it approves the plan on Jan. 24.
The current index cap results in revenue of about $500,000. The board doesn't have to utilize the full amount. Last school year the board chose not to raise taxes above the index.
Superintendent Joseph Clapper said no one should assume the district automatically would go above the index cap at this time. The ultimate goal is to balance the budget without any increases, he said.
But crafting a budget this early takes creativity. In addition to an 11 percent increase in employee pension expenses -- equal to about $350,000 -- and a 9 percent increase in health care costs, administrators also have to consider the cost of salaries, which makes up a bulk of the budget, and the ongoing Allegheny County property reassessment saga.
“That’s what we're dealing with, and all the other school districts are going to have to deal with, to provide a budget that early,” Sheline said.
The status of 2012 property reassessments in Allegheny County is up in the air. Sheline said the Allegheny County Assessment Office divided the county into 10 zones and Quaker Valley falls into the eighth model. He said it’s not clear when assessments for zones eight through 10 will be completed. School officials have heard everything from late February to early May.
“It’s going to be a very unique year again from the budget perspective,” Sheline said.
During the last budget process, Quaker Valley curtailed programs, and slightly increased taxes to make up for a loss in state and federal funding.
- December - Either vote on a resolution not to exceed the index or prepare a preliminary budget for public view.
- January 2012– If the board doesn't pass a resolution “not to exceed index,” the board must approve a preliminary budget that exceeds the index in order to request exceptions.
- February 2012– Apply for exceptions to index
- April 2012– Approve a proposed final budget
- May to early June 2012– Approve a final budget and set millage rate for 2012‐13.