Shik budget is ‘worst case scenario’

SUNBURY—Expenditures are growing at a faster rate than revenue in the Shikellamy School District and the deficit is growing. That grim prospect may not be the end of the line, according to business manager David Sinopoli.  Thursday’s Shikellamy School Board meeting revealed that the deficit could yet be lowered.

Amid discussions about next year’s budget, the board showed some optimism about the prospect of building a new middle school. Jamie Doyle of Public Financial Management said market conditions could be prime for the building project.

“Long-term fixed interest rates continue to hover near all-time lows. They set new all-time lows in the first week of December 2012 and we’re not quite that low, but in the grand scheme of things, we are still pretty darn close to those all-time lows. So, it is a great time to be considering borrowing for a capital building program.”

To finance to project, the school district could increase resident taxes by 3.5 mills. The board noted that the increase could lower the deficit to $304,000. Sinopoli said if the district proceeds with building a new middle school, frugal options could offset the cost by the millions.

“The proposals that we had—[the architects] gave their conception of what the school should be like. The board and superintendent will sit down and they’ll tell them ‘Okay, we like this, but we definitely don’t like that. So, what can we do to maybe lower the cost? If we add this, is it going to impact it greatly? So, they’ll do all that to get an estimate of what the cost is going to be.”

Sinopoli said that with the possibility of state aid for the new middle school, future budgets could turn out in better shape. With the newly adopted community foundation, the district could also generate additional revenue. The preliminary budget, they said, may be the ‘worst case scenario.’ (Carrie Haines)

Members of Shikellamy School District board gathered Thursday to discuss a change in agenda.

Members of Shikellamy School District board gathered Thursday to discuss a change in agenda.