Settlement could cost Tunkhannock $3.6M
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Wyoming County Press Examiner
The Tunkhannock Area School Board estimated Thursday night that to settle the grievance successfully filed by the educators’ association to reinstate 32 teachers furloughed last summer would cost $3.1-$3.6 million over the next year.
According to board member Sandra Lane, who chairs the board’s budget committee, that works out to $1-1.5 million for 2012-13 and $2.1 million for 2013-14.
That means that instead of a 1.5 mill increase that had been proposed last month, the board is now considering a deficit budget of $45.4 million for 2013-14 with a millage increase of 2.9 mills.
That means if 2.9 mills is approved, the average tax bill would be going up $87, Lane said.
Board member Rob Parry called for a vote on the proposed budget, but board member Kim Teeters asked that it be tabled until the board meets next Thursday.
Teeters said the public needed to have a chance to digest that changes which looked like a going thing a month ago were now off the table.
*Cutting maintenance budget by $155,000
*Cutting track resurfacing at $75,000
*Cutting roofing repairs at $30,000
*Cutting paving repairs at $25,000
*cutting a new truck at $25,000
*cutting new band uniforms at $53,000
*cutting new athletic lockers at $20,000
Resident Joe Sick said there was no reason to rush approving the budget this week, and maybe new state money would be announced by next week.
“Not by as much as we need,” quipped Parry.
Sick said he also would like to hear that the school board would use $1.8 million in gas lease funds to go toward the arbitration settlement rather than tax property holders even more.
Parry said, “There is go gas lease money.”
Sick insisted that a budget document available online did reflect a $1.8 million checkbook balance.
Lane said she happy to useit for that purpose, but she, too, believed the account had been depleted.
Business manager PJ O’Shea was absent, so no one could explain how much, if any was in the account.
Parry’s motion was rescinded and it was decided to table a vote on the budget to June 27.
Sick said he wanted to know if the arbitration settlement announced May 24 by the Tunkhannock Area Education Association would be accepted or if the school board was going to spend even more money it doesn’t have paying lawyers to appeal the decision.
Superintendent Mike Healey said district solicitor Frank Tunis was following a timetable that allowed for an appeal.
“He got us into this mess,” Sick said. “I’d like to hear how he thinks he can get us out of it.”
Board president Martin Migliori said, if available, he would try to have Tunis at the June 27 meeting.
In other business, the board agreed to increase lunch prices for the new school year by 10 cents, from $2.30 to $2.40.