CASD budget has 5.5% hike

May 13, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- The Chambersburg Area School Board on Wednesday passed a 2010-11 budget with a 5.5 percent property tax increase.

The budget, with $104.7 million in expenditures, includes the elimination of 39 positions. That comes on top of 21 positions eliminated for 2009-10.

The vast majority of eliminated positions came from retirements and resignations, school officials said.

"No departments were eliminated. Core content areas and all unified arts programs remain," Superintendent Joseph Padasak said, noting the middle school level will lose its family living program.

The additional 4.673 mills of taxes would cost someone with a home with an appraised value of $100,000 an additional $54.21 next year, Business Manager Steve Dart said.


The budget passed 5-4. Board members Lori Leedy, Renee Sharpe, Norman Blowers, Anne Boryan and Dave Sciamanna voted in favor of it. Board members Carl Barton, Stanley Helman, Fred Rice and Joseph Tosten voted against it.

Leedy, who serves on the finance committee, called it "a good budget," but "not one that was easy." While 5.5 percent is a hefty increase, the only way to pare it down would be to cut personnel further, she said.

"This is a service organization, and that's where our biggest costs are," Leedy said.

Dart said a recent audit from the 2008-09 year helped him finalize some figures.

"Through the spending cuts we had in place, the budget freeze if you will, ... we should be in a position to finish the 2009-10 budget year, the current year, with a balanced budget," Dart said.

Dart told the board he now expects the district will be facing a 10 percent increase in health care costs, rather than the 14 percent he initially predicted. Leedy called those costs a wild card.

"You just never know when you are going to have some bad cases," she said.

Sharpe asked if Dart had any insight into the state budget. Dart said Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell's version, which included a $1.6 million funding increase for Chambersburg, passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, but Senate Republicans disseminated a letter saying they don't support that spending plan.

"The likelihood of a (state) budget passing by June 30 seems to be almost nil," Dart said.

Barton questioned whether the 2010-11 budget includes $33,000 for the district's annual report. Dart said it does.

"I'm concerned about that type of expenditure, which has gotten a negative response in the past," Barton said.

Leedy responded that budget items like that can be changed throughout the year, and Sharpe said one of the board's goals was to improve communications.

"That document is an important document to produce. That isn't to say we couldn't look at other avenues for (publishing) that report," Sharpe said.

The board also is considering raising the admission prices for athletic events. The $4 cost for adults would increase to $5, student rates would increase from $2 to $3, senior citizens would remain at $3, and reserved seats would increase from $4.50 to $5.50.

Gold cards, which are good for all home games, would cost $60, rather than $50. The activity cards for students to enter all home games would increase from $10 to $15.

"I paid $10 for an activity ticket 50 years ago," Chuck Lucas, who handles athletic funds, said when asked when prices were last increased.

Because of varying weather and team quality, it is difficult to determine how much revenue could be generated by the increases, Lucas said. A rough estimate places the amount around $17,000, he said.

Positions Eliminated

Administration 5

Counselors 2

Drivers Education 1

English 1

Family Consumer Science 4

K-5 Core Teachers 7

Library 2

Music 1

Nursing (contracted) .5

Reading 2

Special Education 3

Support Staff 9

Technology Education 1

World Language .5

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