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Greencastle-Antrim School Board caps real estate taxes for 2010

December 04, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- The Greencastle-Antrim School Board has capped real estate tax increases for the 2010 school year, forcing the district to balance its budget this June through careful expenditure control.

In a unanimous vote Thursday, the board adopted a resolution that caps real estate taxes for the coming school year at the Act 1 limit, which for Greencastle is 3.2 mills.

Each school district much choose whether it will set the cap or not before January of each year, Business Manager Richard Lipella said.

While the cap assures residents that taxes will not skyrocket above the limit established in Act 1, Lipella said limiting revenue could put Greencastle face to face with a deficit in 2010 if revenue flatlines, as projected, and some expenditures continue to increase.

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The Greencastle-Antrim School District assessed 91.7 mills on residential property in 2009, with each mill generating approximately $187,000 in revenue, Lipella said.

Even if the district raises taxes to the cap, generating an additional $580,000 per year, it still could come up short.

Feared rate increases for retirement offerings, health insurance and electricity, as well as additional personnel costs, could leave the district $200,000 short at the start of the budget process, Lipella said.

Lipella's projected disparity between revenue and expenditure tossed around Thursday was "very preliminary," he said, especially since tax revenues are trickling in behind schedule and none of the feared rate increases have been set.

"I have to admit it is very difficult to give you good information on what the budget is going to look like at this point," he said.

Act 1 requires each district to adopt the resolution or present the public with a budget in January, Lipella said.

The Greencastle-Antrim School Board passed the same resolution in 2008 but ultimately voted for a zero mill increase in the 2009-2010 year, Lipella said.

"If we vote on this (resolution), with revenue looking down, the only way to combat that (revenue decrease) then is through expense management," newly elected board president Arnie Jansen said.

The school district cut expenses early in the 2009 school year to accommodate lowered revenue.

It also asked teachers to forgo salary increases to offset rising disparity between revenue and expenses, which the teachers denied.

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