Taxpayers face increases to aid schools


Taxpayers in southern Franklin County's three school districts face tax increases next year from 1 to 5 mills, according to preliminary budget figures.

Waynesboro Area School District taxpayers are looking at a 1.1-mill increase, said Jack Kennedy, chief financial officer for the district.

A mill represents $1 for each $1,000 of assessed property value. Each mill brings in about $193,000 for the district. An average homeowner would see his annual tax bill go up by about $16 a year if the preliminary budget stays as is, Kennedy said.

The district is showing a deficit of $216,000, due mostly to increased teacher wages and benefits, rising fuel costs and increases in health insurance, Kennedy said.


The proposed budget for next year is $35.5 million, up from $33.8 million in the current year, he said.

Kennedy said the School Board would continue to work on the budget until it is finally adopted June 24.

The Waynesboro Area School District has about 4,050 students.

Richard Lipella, who handles finances in the Tuscarora School District in Mercersburg, Pa., said taxpayers there may see a 5-mill increase. An average homeowner's bill would go up $50 to $60 if the proposed budget stays as is.

Last year, the district raised taxes by 1.72 mills, Lipella said.

One mill will generate about $118,000 next year.

The proposed 2003-04 budget is about $23 million. The budget this year is $21.6 million.

Among reasons for the budget increase is a $156,000 increase in the state retirement fund that the district pays into. The current rate is 1.15 percent. Next year, it's projected to go up to 3.77 percent, Lipella said.

Another half-mill in revenue will go toward the $11.5 million renovation of the district's middle school now under way. Another $400,000 is earmarked for teacher salaries and it's going to cost about $100,000 more for special education, Lipella said.

"Those are the real main biggies," he said.

This year, the state contributes about 3 percent of the district's budget. Next year, it could drop to 2 percent or 2.5 percent, he said.

P. Duff Rearick, superintendent of the Greencastle-Antrim School District, said the proposed budget for 2003-04 is $22 million, about 1 percent higher than the current year.

The district is trying to work its way through a $725,000 deficit. Rearick said most of it is due to decreasing state revenues and a drop in the district's earned income tax revenues.

Somewhat offsetting those decreases is a 3 percent increase in the money the district pulls in from local real estate taxes.

"We'd really have a problem if it wasn't for that," Rearick said.

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