The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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September 11, 2013

Fiscal rescue unveiled

BROOKFIELD — A recovery plan to help Brookfield Local School District see its way out of fiscal emergency was approved Tuesday – with changes to the first proposed plan.

The state-appointed committee charged with being the district’s financial watchdog slapped on an addendum to its plan outlining revenue enhancements for 2013 as well as cuts in spending that should bring the district into the black by the end of the school year.

District and commission officials both agreed to adopt a revenue neutral approach in which money is spent only if it does not exceed savings in other areas. For example, when a staff member leaves the district, he or she can only be replaced by someone coming in at lower pay.

The projected revenue and cash balance, while positive, is low enough that one catastrophic event or expense could wipe out the entire balance.

The approach cut payroll expenses by $592,000 in 2013 and is projected to trim another $285,000 the following year.

Paul Marshall, chairman of the financial planning and supervision commission, credits the property levy approved by voters in May as playing a major role in balancing the budget.

The 4.85-mill property tax approved by voters in May will bring in $606,000 each year. It will produce $303,000 for the current school year because it does not kick in until January.

Profits from state-approved casinos boosted the school’s budget by $24,000 in 2013 and is expected to climb to $89,000 a year.

The district also will see an increase in state funds in the coming two years.

The committee will continue to find ways to share services, which have shown success in saving money over recent years.

An agreement the district opted out of is shared busing of special-needs students, which saved about $25,000 in 2013 when the district provided its own transportation.

In 2005, the district was placed on fiscal caution and ultimately ended up in its current state of emergency.

The final draft of the recovery plan must be turned in to the state by Sept. 28.


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