BY PAT FARNELLI
Wyoming County Press Examiner
DIMOCK – The Elk Lake School Board is reducing the tax rate for property holders in Meshoppen Township and Meshoppen Borough, according the $17.6 million budget it approved last Thursday night.
The tax rate will decline from 44.2 to 42.4 mills that partly reflects state equalization formulas rather than a reduced need for revenue.
In fact, the school board announced Thursday it was having to furlough four members of its professional staff and six members of the support staff. In addition, three teachers
submitted retirements which will not be replaced, superintendent Bill Bush said.
Susquehanna County property holder will see a rise in
their tax rate from 35.8 to 37.48 mills.
The final budget was decreased from a preliminary budget of $18,215,759.
Budget cuts were made by eliminating supply orders to what teachers determined were most essential and by reducing medical plans.
Some staff had freezes in salaries, including administrators. An early retirement incentive was drawn up that was financially advantageous to both the employees and the district.
Two cafeteria workers agreed to drop from full-time to half-time status, and a new one-year support staff agreement was drawn up in order to allow this. One maintenance worker will run the dishwasher for two hours a day to help handle the
“These are certainly times we have never seen in Pennsylvania,” Bush concluded.
At the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center meeting, a new budget was approved for $3,548,999.48.
The SCCTC has an enrollment of 390 students for the 2012-13 school year, and Elk Lake School
District’s budgeted contribution is $1,070,698.14.
Bush approached the board about a request from Williams pipeline officials to give the superintendent board authority to sign for natural gas pipeline easements, right of ways, etc.
The surface right of way pipeline easement has already been signed, Bush said.
“Williams wants to run pipeline from the school to the Galvin’s and Noble’s (neighboring) properties,” Bush said. “The oil and gas companies will need a signature.”
School board member Anne Teel, Dimock, balked at the suggestion.
“I personally would like to be involved as a school board member before we start signing pipeline right of ways all over school property,” Teel said. “There’s a lot to learn in this new world. I personally think that with everything going on in the gas industry, we need to see a map, easements, pipeline size, right of ways; we need to know if the pipeline is only going one way, not two, three or four different directions; and also the size of the right of way.”
Other board members voiced agreement.
“If this was Dallas (School District) there would be a lot more people here about pipelines going in close to a school,” Teel cautioned.
Board member Matt Curley recommended voting no, or waiting until the board is provided with more information. No action was taken.
A request from the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center for a tool box truck, discussed in the April meeting, was revisited.
Since several board members had felt that the price of a new panel truck was a little high, used trucks were sought, and Will Squier found a suitable truck for $6,200 in Maryland.
“It certainly meets the needs of the program and Mr. (Gary) Fenton, and will get him out of using his own vehicle (to transport tools and students to the house building site),” Bush said.
The truck has locking tool and equipment boxes, and will give students experience working with similar trucks used by contractors.
The truck purchase was approved by the board.
The Elk Lake board approved the hiring of Tim Jayne as athletic trainer, at an annual salary of $37,800.
Change orders for the SCCTC expansion were discussed and approved. These included a Frontier phone system at $26,100, smartboards at $8,000, and security cameras at $24,128 from Lieber and Bonham.
A figure of $45,295 was approved for the installation of cables and power wires, and $37,558 was approved for a two unit ventilation system to be installed on the roof.
George Ely & Associates completed a safety audit of the playground, and as a result, equipment was replaced at a cost of $2,680.
A bill for Resource Environmental was approved for payment in the amount of $9,815. $19,520 was approved for the purchase of new cafeteria tables.
During the SCCTC board meeting, Director Alice Davis reported that the SCCTC Licensed Practical Nurse Program, which presently transfers its graduates who wish to further their education to other nursing schools such as Mansfield or Marywood University or Luzerne County Community College for Registered Nurse programs, will be hiring a director of nursing.
She said that staff in charge of recruitments will soon be getting the word out to area hospitals and nursing homes that a program will be available.
The board granted permission to advertise a generator, a scissor lift, and some other miscellaneous equipment for sale to the general public.
Several board members questioned the status of the Centax Central Tax Bureau that has been handling county school and municipal taxes.
It was said that no one seems to be answering phone calls, and that checks are not being cashed.
Craig Sprout asked when the SCCTC house project will be completed and ready for sale. He was told that Gary Fenton had estimated that it would be completed by next April or May.
Another visitor questioned why the board members seem to have many color photocopies and information printed on colored computer paper in their folders. She also asked if the annual audit is put out for bid.
Bush answered that the district has been very satisfied with auditors Murphy, Dougherty & Company.
An executive session was held prior to the meetings at 6 p.m. for personnel purposes.