GASD OKs 2008-2009 budget with 2.8-mill hike

June 06, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

GREENCASTLE, PA. -- The Greencastle-Antrim School District on Thursday night approved its 2008-09 budget, which includes a 2.8-mill tax increase.

The tax increase is 1.9 mills less than the initial budget proposed in April. The general fund budget for the next school year has been set at $32,348,710.

"Our first budget came in at (a 4.7-mill tax increase), and we somewhat rejected it and asked our business manager to take another look at it," board President Daniel J. Fisher said. "It came back at 3.2 (mills), and we asked him to look once again with an aim at 2.9 (mills).

"He came back with 2.8 (mills), which I strongly recommend," he said.

Business Manager Richard G. Lipella recommended the budget, which will increase the real estate tax from 88.9 mills to 91.7. It passed by a 7-2 vote, with Arnie P. Jansen and Kristy M. Faulkner casting the only votes against it.


Jansen's main concern was the 0.6 mills that Lipella reserved for the debt service fund, which would accommodate for any potential change in borrowing for the next school year.

Jansen made a motion for an amendment to the budget without the allocated money for the debt service fund, which would have dropped the mill rate to 91.1.

Jansen and Faulkner were the only board members to vote in favor of that motion.

"I'm pleased with the budget, but I agree with (Jansen)," Faulkner said. "Items should be set aside for a specific purpose."

Lipella said the $70,000 for the debt service fund could be transferred to a budgetary reserve account if it is not needed. Jansen said the district could do without the excess money.

"Rather than budget above, I want an idea as to where it's going," Jansen said.

Lipella said he was able to drop the tax increase from 3.2 mills to 2.8 by calculating additional revenue. The district reassessed the value of a mill and was able to increase it by $1,000 to $174,500.

Lipella later talked about a possible statewide cost-of-living adjustment for retirees that, if passed, could put a surcharge of up to 2.9 percent on the school district.

"If we're looking at 3 percent, that could be several hundreds of thousands of dollars to us," Lipella said. "If that happens to us, it's a big hit."

Funds could be taken from the budgetary reserve account to offset such a burden.

After settling on the budget, the board voted unanimously to approve the Homestead and Farmstead Exclusion Resolution, which provides property tax relief through gaming revenue.

The school district should receive $631,767.91 in gaming revenue, which would be divided between its 4,727 approved homesteads and farmsteads, giving each about $134 in tax relief.

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