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Indian River school district adopts 2012-13 budget

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PHILADELPHIA — After a quick debate Thursday, the Indian River Central School District Board of Education adopted its 2012-13 budget to include a 1.51 percent increase in the tax levy.

The $75.5 million budget, a 6 percent increase from this year’s $71 million, reflects that the district is “cautiously optimistic” about incoming federal impact aid, according to Business Manager James R. Koch.

Although the tax levy remains below the state-imposed cap, school board member Peter D. Shue wanted a flat tax levy as a way to thank residents who have supported Indian River.

“We should be asking money from the taxpayers when we need it, not when we want it,” he said.

However, the rest of the board members were not convinced that would have been wise.

“While we are sitting good, there are still a lot of uncertainties in our future,” Vice President Thomas L. Lapp said.

No motion was made after the debate to lower the levy. The adopted 1.51 percent increase results in a levy of $3.17 million, a $47,000 increase from this year’s $3.12 million raised by taxes.

Other revenue is expected to increase nearly 7 percent, or $3.7 million, from $53.3 million to $57 million.

The amount in the appropriated fund balance will be increased by 7.4 percent, or more than $1 million, from this year’s $14.4 million.

Mr. Koch is banking on $10.6 million in federal aid.

In addition to the budget, Mr. Koch proposed that the district start a capital reserve fund. During a budget recommendation earlier this year, he shared the idea of beginning a reserve that would hold $10 million to use for capital projects.

The reserve would have a term of 10 years. District residents will vote on whether to accept the reserve fund.

The district is not planning any capital projects next year. Officials are discussing installing one or more windmills on school grounds, but Superintendent James Kettrick does not expect that to happen next year.

Expenses that received the biggest percentage jumps were salaries, fringe benefits and Board of Cooperative Educational Services programs.

Mr. Koch is budgeting more money toward gasoline and diesel as well.

This year, the district spent $831,000 on fuel, about $175,000 less than he anticipated.

For next year, about $1.5 million is being budgeted, a 52 percent increase.

“I built an uncertainty cushion,” he said. “I don’t know how cold it’s going to be and I don’t know what gas prices are going to bring.”

The public hearing will be May 8. District residents will vote on the budget and capital reserve on May 15.

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