GREENCASTLE, Pa. — The public will have one hour to voice its support or concern for a proposed $2.5 million high school stadum upgrade at Thursday's Greencastle-Antrim School Board meeting.
In response to a strong community reaction to a possible tax increase, the school board is extending its normal 20-minute public comment session to 60 minutes.
The Greencastle-Antrim school board is inviting the public to attend Thursday's board meeting. To accommodate the anticipated crowd, the meeting will be held in the G-A middle school cafeteria with the public comment session beginning at 6 p.m.
Jim Laye, the owner of Jim's Tavern in Greencastle and 14 rental properties in the borough, is vehemently opposed to a property tax increase.
"What about those people that have no job and no money? What about the older people on Social Security who haven't gotten an increase in over three 3 years — how are they going to pay for this?" Laye said in a phone interview Tuesday.
He said there have been at least 57 foreclosures in the area.
"I don't know where they think the people are getting their money from," said Laye who posted a sign outside his business, protesting the school district's proposed 8.6 mill tax increase. "Right now, it's not a good time to spend $2 million on a football field."
According to a school district release, there will be two aisles set up in the cafeteria, one aisle for those supporting the stadium project and another aisle for those opposed to it.
Each person will have three minutes to address the board.
Board President Joel Fridgen said a decision would be made on the proposed stadium improvement project at Thursday's board meeting.
The project includes: the football stadium, a second field and the lights at the stadium. Both fields are proposed to be covered with artificial turf.
"If the stadium is to be completed in time for fall sports, a decision has to be made Thursday — either we're going to do it, or we're not going to do it," Fridgen said Tuesday.
The total bid package listed on the school board agenda is $1,827,194 for the stadium project.
While the school board hasn't voted to do anything, Fridgen said at the last board meeting the athletic director and coaches made their wishes known.
"They are saying something has got to be done, and I think the facilities (development) committee agrees," Fridgen said.
Board members Howard Ritchey, William Thorne and Brian Hissong serve on the facilities development committee.
At Thursday's meeting, the district superintendent will request that the board approve, per the facilities development committee, awarding the stadium improvement project bids to:
— David Martin Excavating of Chambersburg, Pa. for the site, field and track for $1,363,694.
— Monacacy Valley Electric of Littlestown, Pa., for the electrical work to replace the lights at the stadium for $463,500.
If the board awards the bids, the district will vote to issue a $2.5 million bond.
Business manager Dick Lipella said the stadium project is separate from the $22 million middle school/high school renovation project.
Lipella and Fridgen declined to provide a millage increase if the board approves the stadium project, because both said those figures are premature.
On April 13, the public is invited to a meeting at 7 p.m. in the G-AMS library to discuss a capital campaign.
Lipella said money raised from the capital campaign could be used to offset the stadium project. Or, some of the $1.5 million in the capital reserve fund can be used to pay off the bond.
Even though the cost of the stadium project is less than $2 million, Lipella said the district bond is more due to ancillary expenses.
"We're doing a $2.5 million bond issue because you have to pay a couple percent for a bond issuance fee. Also we're borrowing money to cover the soft costs like the architect fees, consulting fees and permit fees, so the $2.5 million is all inclusive of the project," Lipella said.
The budgeting process continues through April and May with a final budget adoption in June.
"(The) school administration is tasked with looking for additional budget cuts that can be made. Those cuts will include some level of operations throughout the district," Bob Crider, the district's director of educational operations, said in a news release. "Cuts will include a level of both professional and supportive positions, educational programming, and extra-curricular activities."
Crider said that Greencastle-Antrim district has one of the lowest costs per pupil expenditures in the state. "We are ranked 12th out of the 500 existing districts in Pennsylvania," he said.