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Schools budget to increase taxes

June 11, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A $30 million budget passed by the Waynesboro Area School District is $350,000 higher than the current year's spending plan, and would further deplete the board's surplus.

The budget approved Tuesday night includes a 9.1 mill tax increase intended to build up the year-end fund balance, or surplus, said Board President Robert J. Ternes.

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

Three years ago, the fund balance was $2.2 million. This year, because the board has been dipping into it to pay expenses, it will be at $1.1 million at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

"That's what we project it will be, but we won't know for sure until the audit report," said Schools Superintendent Robert A. Mesaros. The board expects to reduce it even more, down to about $750,000 next year, he said.

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Ternes said the board should have been raising taxes in recent years to cover expenses instead of using money in the fund balance to pay for them.

"It will be painful over the next two years to reconstruct the fund balance," he said.

Mesaros said the auditors recommend that between 3 percent and 8 percent of the budget should be set aside as a fund balance to cover emergencies.

Before the vote, board member Leland H. Lemley demanded the board hold a public hearing on the budget. Such a hearing, he said, was required by law.

Lemley quoted from a copy of the state school law to back up his request.

Mesaros said school board attorney James D. Flower Jr. of Carlisle, Pa., agreed with Lemley at the meeting but changed his opinion after reading the law Wednesday.

According to Mesaros, school districts of Waynesboro's size are not required to hold public budget hearings. The board's vote on the budget stands, he said.

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