Crestwood budget, tax hike become official

By Tom Huntington - For Times Leader
Gorham -

WRIGHT TWP. — The Crestwood School Board on Thursday night put the finishing touches on a $40 million 2018-19 budget that is $1.9 million in deficit and includes a real estate tax increase of 5.5 percent.

The vote on the budget was 7-2 with school directors Maureen McGovern and Ron Sturgeon opposed.

“We have a lot of people in Mountain Top who are retired and are on Social Security,” McGovern said of the tax increase. “They can’t afford it.”

Sturgeon was not available for comment.

Financial director Albert Melone said the real estate tax hike — to 10.3889 mills from 9.8481 mills in 2017-18 — is anticipated to raise an additional $947,488 for the district and means $108 more in taxes for property owners who have a house valued at $200,000.

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

Overall, the budget lists $40,023,175 in spending against $38,025,374 in estimated revenue, leaving a deficit of $1.9 million to be covered by Crestwood’s reserve fund.

Revenue expectations include about $15 million in state reimbursement, an amount Melone said is a 2.5 percent increase over 2017-18.

Through previous negotiations with the Crestwood Education Association, an agreement was reached on salary issues to save the jobs of four teachers who were set to be furloughed.

In conjunction with the budget, the proposed fieldhouse/community center at the stadium — a point of contention in earlier budget discussions — was put on hold for now.

School board president Bill Jones said construction bids “all came in too high.” The board approved a motion to deny all five bids received May 10.

Jones said the project, except for site work which is set to begin this coming week, will be delayed until at least the spring of 2019.

Security

The board also dealt with the issue of security at its buildings for the 2018-19 term, with Superintendent Joseph Gorham stating that a search is underway for a resource officer who will formulate and oversee security at all three schools.

Gorham said at this point, four individuals have submitted resumes, at least one of whom is a retired FBI agent. Gorham added “there will be a full-time police officer on duty at the high school (secondary campus).”

In other business, the board:

• Accepted the resignation of Joseph Delluso as principal of the Rice Township school, effective June 30. Gorham said a search has already started to find a successor.

• Approved amendments to the contracts of Gorham and assistant superintendent Joseph Rasmus for the 2018-19 term.

• Over the protest of taxpayer Edward Conway, a motion was approved to eliminate a secondary campus aide position.

• Payments of $55,000 and $1,250 out of the capital projects fund were approved for the Quad 3 Group for work on the fieldhouse project.

Gorham
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_new_super3_faa.jpgGorham

By Tom Huntington

For Times Leader