Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

State Stalemate Puts Preliminary Budget in Limbo

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

State Stalemate Puts Preliminary Budget in Limbo

Article excerpt

North Allegheny administrators presented a preview of the 2016- 17 budget at the board's Dec. 16 meeting, a task made more complicated by the state's budget impasse.

The preliminary budget - required by state law to be adopted in January - is challenging enough to do six months before final passage. It was made more challenging this year because the state has yet to pass its 2015-16 budget, said Robert Scherrer, acting superintendent.

"I just don't know what [state funding] is going to be for this year, so I don't know what it is going to be for next year," said Michael Hopkins, finance director.

The state has been providing about 20 percent of the revenues for the district budget. Many less affluent districts receive about 35 percent, but the state should provide 50 percent of the funding for all districts, he said.

Adding to the challenge of predicting revenue, a county document that will help the board better estimate real estate tax revenue also is not available yet, he said.

The preliminary spending plan lists revenues at $147.28 million and expenditures at $151.1 million.

That is a shortfall of $3.8 million, which is a smaller amount than the district has shown in previous preliminary budgets.

Revenue is expected to increase because of new housing and commercial developments, Mr. Hopkins said.

"Expenditure trends - everything is going up," he said. He added that medical insurance rates rose 13.5 percent for 2016, and the 2017 rates will not be available until August, which is after the final budget must be approved.

Mr. Scherrer said administrators have been sharing budget data and seeking input from residents through advisory committees and small-group meetings at the schools.

"Where we are today is a little better than we thought we were a few months ago," he said.

In other business, the board hired the Chester County Intermediate Unit for $20,000 to help with the search for a superintendent. …

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