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Tax increase looms in Greencastle-Antrim school district

January 07, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Property owners in the Greencastle-Antrim School District are looking at paying more in property taxes next year, but just how much depends on whether the state allows the district to increase the tax index.

The current index is 1.6 mills, which generates about $300,000. But that’s not enough to run the district next year, let alone fund the renovation project at the middle school and high school, an official said.

At Thursday’s Greencastle-Antrim School Board meeting, Business Manager Dick Lipella told board members the district is faced with a decision to stay within the Act 1 Index or file for an exemption from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The board approved seeking an exemption from the state that would enable the district to increase the current index to close up the $1.5 million budgetary shortfall of its $33.47 million budget for 2011-12 .

“Last year (2009-10) we operated at a loss of $224,000. This year, so far on paper, it looks like it could be $900,000,” said Lipella, who estimated the $1.5 million shortfall could increase to more than $2 million if the district continues with the renovation project.

Total expenditures for the district are estimated at $33,474,270, with revenues at $31,640,606 for next year.

Just to cover operating expenses, Lipella said the district needs a total of 8.5 mills. To proceed with the middle school/high school renovation project, another 4.1 mills, or a total of 12.6 mills, would be required.

For a taxpayer paying $2,000 in property taxes a year, 12.6 mills equates to $277 more per year. A $3,000 yearly tax bill will mean an increase of $396, while a $4,000 tax bill will be $528 more, according to Lipella.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education grants or denies exemptions. Lipella said the district could qualify for half of the approximately 10 exemptions.

He said the district could opt to use all the exceptions, none of the exceptions or part of the exceptions.

Since the board will seek exemptions from the state, the preliminary budget must be adopted Feb. 16, which means the board is slated to vote on the preliminary budget at its Feb. 3 meeting.

In other business, the board revealed the names of the four candidates who applied to fill the board seat left vacant by the resignation of board president Arnold “Arnie” Jansen.

Greencastle residents Ginny Lays, Melinda Cordell, Robin Hansen and Sheldon Schwartz applied to complete the remainder for Jansen’s term.

The board will hold a special meeting on Jan. 13, starting at 6 p.m. in the middle school library. At 6:15 p.m., each candidate will be interviewed by the school board, which is expected to select Jansen’s replacement at its Jan. 20 board meeting.

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