TASD budget now in place for 2006-07

The Tyrone Area School Board approved its 2006-07 budget at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
School Board member Ray Detwiler voted against the budget and changes in real estate taxes that will cause increases in two of the three counties served by the district. School board member Rev. Norman Huff was not present. The administration said the final budget was presented and passed as proposed.
Under the new budget, Blair and Huntingdon County property owners in the Tyrone Area School District will see a tax hike. Blair County owners will be taxed an additional 4.67 mills. In Huntingdon County, the increase is 2.37 mills with Centre County property owners realizing a .72 mill decrease because of equalization. The district is subject to equalization because residents that comprise the district live in three different counties.
The average increased cost per mill is $5.60 per mill in Blair County and $12.21 per mill in Huntingdon County using the respective average residential assessed value in each county.
On average, residential homeowners in the district will see $26.14 added to their taxes in Blair County for 2006-07. The average increase in Huntingdon County for the year will be $28.93. Centre County residents in the Tyrone Area School District will save $21.97 on average for the year.
When the budget was originally presented last month, Superintendent Dr. William N. Miller noted some of the increased costs the district is facing. He said salaries would increase by approximately $300,000. He also cited medical insurance costs and significant increases in natural gas, electricity and other costs.
Earlier this year, administrators met twice to make adjustments before the budget was presented last month for the board to approve for public viewing.
The total savings administrators came up with was $922,585. The moves left the district with a $493,082 shortfall between proposed 2006-07 revenues and 2006-07 expenses with the tax increase factored into the numbers. The budget reflects total revenues in the amount of $19,258,693 and total expenditures of $19,751,775.
The district’s fund balance will be reduced from $1,638,652 on June 30, 2006 to $1,145,570 on June 30, 2007 to cover the shortfall.
Later during the meeting on Tuesday, the board took action expected to provide additional savings to the district. The budget as passed reflected the addition of a protective services program with an approximate cost of $50,000. The program will train students in the area of criminal justice, firefighting and emergency services. The board approved the program.
The budget also showed expenses associated with district’s automotive mechanics program. However, after passing the budget, the board decided to eliminate that program on-site. The vote was 5 to 3 to eliminate the program. Administrators told The Daily Herald the estimated cost of the program for the upcoming year would have been about $95,000, which included $35,000 in equipment upgrades, salary, benefits and materials.
It remains unclear how much savings the district will realize by the move in the upcoming year. About 20 students had selected the automotive program and some could still end up attending the Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center. Students are being offered other options for programs at the district. Those still wanting the automotive program would have to pass a test to qualify. The district said “half or less” of the 20 students could end up being placed in the technology center’s program. The cost of $5,000 per student to attend the technology center would be paid for by the school district.
Administrators said they would continue to realize savings in future years since the protective services program won’t require the regular equipment upgrades that were associated with the automotive program.
The school board also approved the athletic budget in the amount of $316,492. The board approved its earned income tax at a rate of 0.65 percent. The move reflects no change from the current tax imposed. The board also approved an increase in the real estate tax penalty from five to 10 percent starting on July 1. The athletic budget, earned income tax and real estate penalty motions all passed unanimously.