At York City School Board committee meetings Jan. 7, we heard the first public board update on the 2013-14 budget process. And it’s expected to be difficult, as years past have been.
Richard Snodgrass, business manager, said there would be more discussion at the Jan. 16 board meeting and the board should adopt a preliminary budget in February.
The state requires school boards to take certain budget actions at certain times. They have until end of June to adopt a final budget for next year, but they must first adopt a preliminary budget by Feb. 20, 2013 (or adopt a resolution saying they won’t raise taxes by more than their Act 1 index by Jan. 31).
So York City, like every school district, has to get started on this process.
But how does that process work with the financial recovery process going on?
The state appointed a chief recovery officer for the district in December. He’s tasked with creating a financial recovery plan within 90 days, though other districts going through the process have sought extensions.
Will the financial recovery process influence the 2013-14 budget, or vice versa? I asked David Meckley, the recovery officer, who said that there are, “in essence, two parallel but related efforts” going on.
The district budget process moves forward. Independently, he works with the advisory committee on a financial plan, which may look more broadly than the typical budget process and looks at recovery on a longer-term basis.
“Are they both going to converge? That’s possible,” Meckley said.
The state has also contracted with PFM Group, a financial advisory company, to help with the financial recovery process, he noted, an added resource that wouldn’t typically be available during the budget process. With the additional state resources and the advisory committee, there might be more ideas than would typically come up during the budget preparations.
“The bigger the challenge, the more creative thinking we need,” Meckley said.
Process update: The advisory committee’s first meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 30. The meetings will be public, though there will also be public forums and that’s likely where public comment will take place, according to Meckley.