School district may call for tax hike next year

April 09, 2002|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Greencastle-Antrim taxpayers may face a four-mill increase in their

school taxes next year as school officials work out a small deficit and

figure out how to make up cuts in state payments to the district.

A new five-year teacher contract that gives the faculty a

2.7-percent-a-year increase over the five-year term plus a 3 percent

hike for the district's seven building administrators do not have an

impact on any new tax hikes."We already had them built into the budget," said Greencastle-Antrim Schools Superintendent P. Duff Rearick.

A cut in state aid will cost the district about $200,000, Rearick said.

That, coupled with rising fuel and utility costs and a deficit of about


$200,000 in the current budget, means a tax hike is needed this year, he


The school board will get its first look at a preliminary budget at its

April 18 meeting.

"We're anticipating a small hike, maybe four mills," Rearick said.

The district's last tax increase, equivalent to about 2 mills, was

passed in 2000, he said.

Each mill, which represents $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property

value, brings in about $139,000, Rearick said.

The school budget runs around $20 million a year, he said.

Greg Hoover, director of elementary education and principal of

Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School, said the administrators and board

agreed on a one-year contract for the building administrators this time.

"We felt it was in the district's best interest because of the economy,"

Hoover said. "We'll take the next year to compare our salaries and

benefits to those of surrounding districts."

The previous contract ran for three years, he said.

The first two years gave the administrators an across-the-board $2,500

annual pay hike. The third year was 3 percent, he said.

In an unrelated matter, the school board had to renegotiate its

agreement to buy 49 acres of land south of Leitersburg Road across from

Tayamentsachta, the district's environmental center. The original

agreed-upon price for the land was $1 million, but the district ended up

paying owner Duane Kinzer an extra $125,000 for the land, Rearick said.

The land sold for about $23,000 an acre.

A controversy may be surfacing around the creek that runs through

Tayamentsachta, Rearick said.

It ran dry in February and school officials are blaming the ongoing

drought. Rearick said some area citizens believe the groundwater was

affected by the blasting that was done when the new Grindstone Hill Road

extension was built last year.

Hydrology experts could be called in to support either theory, he said.

The creek filled back up following the March rains, but is dropping

again, he said. He blamed it on the lack of rain in the last two weeks.

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