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Budget proposal lowers tax increase

June 03, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Additional special education funding from the state has allowed the Chambersburg Area School District to whittle another half a mill off the anticipated real estate tax increase for the 1998-99 school year.

The administration is asking for a 3-mill increase in taxes to a total of 123.5 mills, with 1.5 mills dedicated to upgrading technology at the schools. When the budget plan was unveiled in April, the administration was asking for a 4-mill increase, but that was trimmed to 3.5 in the tentative budget approved in May.

The 3-mill tax hike means the average property owner's taxes will increase $19.16, Fike said.

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

"Last year we had two members of the public. This year I see we have at least three," School Board President Eugene Gayman said at Wednesday night's public hearing on the $51.9 million spending plan. A final vote on the package is scheduled for June 10.

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Business Manager George Fike said more than $90,000 in additional funding for special education enabled the district to reduce the tax increase further.

The budget is 3 percent higher than the current year, according to Superintendent Edwin Sponseller. Fike said total revenues will be up $1.5 million, the largest increases being $423,000 in the state subsidy and $394,000 in real estate tax revenues.

On the expenditure side, salaries will grow by almost $1.1 million and payments to Blue Cross/Blue Shield are going up almost $500,000.

Payments to the state retirement fund, however, will be almost $350,000 lower.

Fike said upgrading technology over the next few years will require more than buying computers. In some cases, buildings will need improved heating and air condition systems and upgraded electrical services to handle the equipment.

The 1.5 mills for technology equals $290,000.

According to state figures from the 1995-96 school year, Sponseller said the district ranked 434th out of 501 districts in Pennsylvania school taxes and 400th in per-pupil spending.

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