LEWISTOWN - During a special voting meeting held Thursday, the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors approved the 2012-13 general fund budget for the Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center that includes cutting of a program.
The budget, which needs to be approved by both the Mifflin and Juniata County School Boards, totals $2,021,509, which is less than the Mifflin County School Board was intending to approve at its regular voting session next Thursday.
The new budget includes cutting the police services course, which will affect 46 students next school year. Board member Travis Parkes said the Juniata County School Board would not vote for the original proposal without a two percent cut. "One of the programs had to go," he said. It was also noted that if the CTC budget was not passed prior to the end of June, it could affect the school's nursing program, which continues through the summer.
Also on the agenda for the special voting session was approval of the next phase of the process for the proposed renovation project at the Indian Valley Elementary School. The board unanimously approved submission of Plan Con D and E, moving one step closer to getting the project into the state's "Pipeline" for potential reimbursement from Harrisburg should the board move forward with the project later this year.
Superintendent James Estep explained the approval Thursday keeps the district in the process without making a financial commitment.
"There's some wrangling on the state level on whether or not the district will be grandfathered in for future reimbursement," Estep said.
In the Plan Con process, the deeper into the alphabet a district goes gets it closer to having to make that commitment. "We don't know which letter the governor is going to say that you qualify for reimbursement, so this step could be a benefit in helping with the renovation project at IVES."
The board previously had voted to have the district's architect submit Plan Con A and B documents, Estep said, adding that if the project gets to Plan Con G, a formal commitment to the project would have to be declared.
On a related note, during the committee-of-the-whole meeting that followed the special voting session, Brad Remig, a financial consultant with Public Financial Management, was on hand to present the board with a couple of options regarding potential sources of funding for the IVES project, should the board proceed later in the year.
Remig presented several scenarios and reviewed current interest rates for municipal bonds. "Rates are at a good time right now and should be that way for a pretty good time," Remig reported.
One scenario Remig presented would actually be broken down into two phases. They would include two separate bond issues, one in the fall of this year and another in the spring of 2013 to help pay for the estimated $9 million project. This scenario would include refinancing a current loan the district has with a local bank to lower those interest payments.
A second scenario presented was virtually the same as the first but without the refinancing of the bank loan. Estep said earlier discussions with board members indicated there wasn't much support for the second scenario because it would end up costing the district more in the long run.
In other business, Sean Daubert, chief financial officer, reported the administration's recommendation for passage of the district's 2012-13 general operating budget has not changed since the May meeting.
Daubert said he is still recommending the board pass the budget in the amount of $63,438,258, which includes a tax increase of 2.1883 mills for next fiscal year. That is the number the board passed in its May meeting.
"As of now there still is no state budget," Daubert said of why his estimates haven't changed. "There appears to be agreement on the total value but still no details on how the dollars will be broken out."
Board President Walter Harpster asked Daubert if the state does come through with more revenue than anticipated, can the budget still be revised before June 28, the date of the scheduled vote.
"As far as extra revenue, if we get something concrete by next Thursday, we can revise it and bring it to you. I don't want to guess. I'd rather bring you what I know."
Also scheduled for a vote during next week's meeting are the following tax resolutions for the 2012-13 fiscal year: Resolved, that there is levied by the Mifflin County School District a real estate tax of 30.9519 mills for the fiscal year 2012-13 upon the assessed value of all real estate within said district, this levy to be enacted at a rate of $30.9519 on each $1,000 of the assessed value of the property to be taxed; Resolved, that there is levied by the Mifflin County School District a tax of $5 upon each resident or inhabitant of said district over the age of 18 for the 2012-13 fiscal year of the district; Resolved, that also levied is a resident tax of $5, a $10 flat rate local services tax, a one percent real estate transfer tax, and a 1.35 percent earned income tax.
Editor's note: Additional agenda items scheduled for a vote during the board's June 28 business meeting will appear in a separate article to be published in Saturday's edition of The Sentinel.