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Waynesboro taxes up 7.4 mills

June 16, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - For the second year in a row, Waynesboro area residents will pay more school taxes.

The School Board voted last week raised the district's tax rate by 7.4 mills.

Meanwhile, the Greencastle-Antrim School Board voted Thursday night to hold the line on its taxes and maintain its current rate of 167 mills.

Tuscarora School District officials raised taxes by 5 mills earlier this year, said Superintendent Ted F. Rabold.

Waynesboro's tax hike, like last year's 9.5-mill increase, is aimed at restoring the year-end surplus to its level of four years ago - before the board started using it to balance its budget, said Schools Superintendent Robert Mesaros.

The state school board recommends Pennsylvania's 501 school districts maintain an average fund reserve, the amount left over each year after all bills are paid, of 5 to 8 percent of the total budget.

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Waynesboro ended the 1994-95 fiscal year with a fund reserve, or surplus, of $2.2 million. This year, even with last year's 9.5-mill tax hike, estimates call for a surplus of around $750,000, Mesaros said. Last year, the surplus was $742,000.

Jack Kennedy, finance director for the district, said the board needed money from the surplus to balance budgets hit hard by property reassessments by the district's major industries, increases in health insurance and special-education costs.

One mill represents $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. Each mill raises about $71,400 for the Waynesboro Area School District, about $42,000 in Tuscarora and $60,000 for the Greencastle-Antrim School District.

Mesaros said this will be the last hike needed to restore the surplus. The board has set a goal of $900,000, or about 3 percent of the district's $30 million budget, for next year's surplus, he said.

Next year, any new tax hikes would likely be to cover the cost of modernizing the heating and cooling systems in some schools or adding new classroom space.

P. Duff Rearick, superintendent in Greencastle-Antrim, said the school board there did some financial planning and kept spending down in spite of a $645,000 reduction in tax income from reassessments by the district's major industries in the last four years. "We just paced our spending," he said.

Rabold said the 5-mill hike will cost an average Tuscarora School District taxpayer about $28 more a year. A Waynesboro area taxpayer will see his taxes go up by about $55 a year to pay for the 7.4-mill hike, Mesaros said.

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