Superintendent says firm is holding up state reimbursements for district.

Last updated: May 16. 2013 11:48PM - 2430 Views

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UNION TWP. — In addition to passing an $18.1 million preliminary budget with a projected tax increase of .2207 mills, the Northwest Area School Board learned Wednesday night that the district also has a problem with a slower receipt of state funds.

Superintendent Ronald Grevera said the district has not received funds for several months. He said that in the past “by now we have received numerous checks.”

Grevera didn’t indicate the amount of the funding, but he indicated that it is substantial.

He said state reimbursement is being handled by a newly retained organization, Public Consulting Group of Boston, Mass. In the past, he said, funds were distributed through Leader Services.

He said he learned in conversation with other school administrators that Public Consulting Group “is doing a poor job.” Grevera also said that in conferences with state legislators, he found they are unaware a problem exists with the firm.

According to its website, Public Consulting Group submitted a successful bid earlier this year to administrator education services for the state.

In the vote on the preliminary budget, direcitors Darryl Moran and Gerald Conger voted no, with the rest of the eight board member in attendance voting yes. The plan calls for $17.8 million in revenue, leaving a more than $270,000 deficit.

Property taxes would rise from 9.186 mills to 9.4193 mills. Property owners with real estate valued at $100,000 would pay an additional $21.

A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

Al Melone, financial advisor associated with the Albert Melone Co. of Pittston, said the budget can still be altered before final adoption on June 24. The district must have a balanced budget submitted to the Department of Education by June 30.

Grevera said estimates are that state funds will be reduced 35 percent for the 2013-2014 school year.

The board voted unanimously for Malone to pursue bond financing for up to $2.2 million for capital improvements to the district’s buildings. Melone said he has been in contact with the district’s bond underwriter, PNC Bank, and will have a report available at the June meeting.

In conjunction with repairs, the school board awarded $193,590 in contracts to make the restrooms at the high school compliant with the American With Disabilities Act. Premium Builders, $99,970, was the successful bidder on general construction work; Linco Corporation, $79,400, on plumbing; AirCon, $6,600, on HVAC construction and George J, Hayden, $7,830, for electricity. Grevera said the project is to be completed by early August.

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