The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

May 20, 2013

District reserves to cover $500,000 shortfall

MERCER — Although Mercer Area School District has a $500,000 shortfall in its budget for the coming school year, school directors do not plan to raise taxes.

Members will give a final vote on the budget tonight; the proposed budget was approved last month, said Dr. William Gathers, superintendent.

The budget stands at $16,309,057 in expenses and $15,810,312 in revenues, said Mike Stabile, business manager.

The $498,745 shortage has been due to “a number of things, but one of the biggest ones is the substantial increase in the retirement system,” Gathers said.

The state determines what school districts must contribute, added Cedric Butchy, board president. Furthermore, “This is the last year of the teachers’ contract. We spend more paying people than anything else,” he said.

Another shortfall in Mercer’s budget is the state has only projected subsidies at about $81,000, Gathers explained. “After what we were given two years ago, we were cut almost $1 million and last year we had zero,” he said.

“Every school district is struggling,” Butchy noted. “Everybody feels the same way. It’s another year, and there’s nothing from the state at all.”

“There’s a lot of debate raging now with school funding,” Gathers said, and the district could see more subsidy money when the state is set to pass its budget at the end of June.

However, “We have to pass ours now. We’re floating in limbo now,” the superintendent said.

Under a formula by the state – called the Act 1 Index – Mercer schools could raise taxes by over 2 mills, but the school board chose not to use it as of last month’s meeting, Gathers said.

“We’ve never increased millage to the index. We increase when necessary,” Butchy said. “We’re all taxpayers, too, and nobody wants to pay more in taxes.”

The district plans to pay for its shortfall by pulling from its fund balance, Gathers said. “There used to be a substantial amount (of subsidy) from the state and our school board doesn’t feel the locals should have to pay that burden.”

Butchy added: “We don’t have a huge fund balance and hope things work out that you don’t have to go that far in the fund balance. Don’t overestimate expenses and don’t underestimate. Nobody likes to spend their savings ... at home or in a school budget either. We try to limit tax increases and spend money wisely.”

Gathers did not recommend increasing property taxes to the board, he noted.

“They’re enlightened enough to our financial situation,” said the superintendent, who agrees with the board in not raising taxes.

“Not all schools have the same tax bases,” Gathers said. “Others struggle more financially than others. We would not consider ourselves an affluent school district and we’re doing the best we can.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Alleged hit-run driver arrested

    Sharon police said Friday afternoon they had arrested a man believed to have driven a vehicle that struck an 11-year-old boy Thursday and left the scene.

    July 19, 2014

  • Boy ‘was being starved’

    A 7-year-old Greenville boy described as looking like a human skeleton had been starved and beaten by his mother for a year, authorities are saying.

    July 19, 2014

  • Corruption case puts ex-youth leader in rehab program

    The former commander of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron has been admitted into a diversionary program to resolve a criminal case, but the conditions of the program all but forbid his involvement with CAP, his attorney said.

    July 18, 2014

  • GACT’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ opens tonight at Thiel

    Beauty parlor gossip, southern drawls and big hair may sound out of place for Mercer County, but it’s very much a real scene in Thiel College’s William Robinson Theater.

    July 18, 2014

  • Police seek hit-and-run driver who struck boy

    A boy riding a Mongoose bike on Second Avenue in Sharon Thursday evening was struck straight on by a truck whose driver never hit the brakes or looked back, witnesses said.

    July 18, 2014