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School budget in Chambersburg includes 4.47 mill increase

June 30, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg School Board on Wednesday gave final approval to an $81.3 million 2005-06 budget that includes a 4.47-mill increase in real estate taxes.

With the tax increase, property taxes will be 67 mills, or $67 for every $1,000 of assessed value on a property. On a property with a market value of $100,000, the 4.47 mills represents an increase over last year of $64.82, according to a budget summary.

One mill is expected to generate $548,630 in revenues in 2005-06, up from $530,725 this year, an increase of 3.36 percent, Business Manager Rick Vensel said. The tax increase is projected to generate the $2.45 million needed to close the gap between revenues and expenditures, according to the budget document.

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The budget sets expenditures next year at about $77.5 million, plus a $3.85 million fund balance. Expenditures are up about $5.3 million, or 7.3 percent over the current year, according to the summary.

The budget passed on an 8-1 vote, with board member Robert Helman dissenting.

"There ought to be some things talked about to ease the burden" on taxpayers, Helman said. He suggested the district adopt a "pay-to-play" rule where students pay a fee to play athletics and charge students, or their parents, the cost of a day's education whenever a student skips school.

Helman said the district needs to restore "the three Rs ... respect, responsibility and reliability."

The budget includes $892,397 for additional programs and positions, including an elementary principal, three elementary teachers, three learning support teachers, an elementary and middle school counselor and three special education aides. Some of those positions, however, already were filled during the current school year, Superintendent Edwin Sponseller said.

Real estate taxes are predicted to produce $36.75 million in revenue next year, up from $33.1 million in 2004-05. Local revenues are projected at $47.9 million, including almost $5 million from earned income taxes and $1.9 million from real estate transfer taxes, money the district receives each time a property is bought and sold.

Health insurance and the district's contribution to the state retirement system accounted for more than $1.5 million in increases for next year. Salaries will increase $1.2 million, or 3.24 percent, to $38.3 million.

Local revenues make up almost 62 percent of the budget. State subsidies are estimated at $26.7 million, or 34.5 percent of the budget, according to the budget summary. The balance primarily is from federal subsidies and cash reserves.

Despite the tax increase, Chambersburg is expected to have one of the lowest tax rates among the 501 school districts in Pennsylvania. The most recent state figures from 2001-02 ranked Chambersburg at 462nd.

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