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Greencastle-Antrim School Board fails to pass its 2013-14 budget

June 06, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — The Greencastle-Antrim School Board failed to pass its 2013-14 budget Thursday night despite having four taxing options to consider.

The options included tax increases of between 2 mills and 3.8 mills.

In May, the nine-member board passed by a 5-3 vote a proposed, $35 million budget for 2013-14 that included a 2-mill tax increase to balance the budget.

Business Manager Jolinda Wilson said in order to close the $800,000 gap between revenues and expenditures in the budget the district would need to pull $500,000 from the fund balance as well as use the more than $377,000 in revenue that would be generated from a 2 mill tax increase.

But some of the board members have argued that the district needs to plan for the future by raising taxes by more than 2 mills.

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Board member Joel Fridgen has been an outspoken advocate of raising taxes to the Act 1 tax cap to address future needs.

The board has the option of increasing taxes 3.8259 mills, which is the Act 1 Index tax cap for the district.

The Act 1 Index is the allowable increase in millage (property taxes) for each Pennsylvania school district before exceptions or voter referendum.

“What solution do we have for 2018-19?” Fridgen asked.

Based on the projected budget that Wilson completed for the board, Fridgen said all the reserves will be depleted by 2018 and the projected budget will show a $1 million deficit.

“What are we going to do when we have no money left (in reserve) and our deficit is a million dollars in 2018-19?” Fridgen said.

Board members Melinda Cordell, Fridgen, Ken Haines, Eric Holtzman, Brian Hissong, Tracy Baer, Michael Still and Michael Shindle voted unanimously against a 3.8-mill increase.

Board member William Thorne was absent due to health reasons.

“I can’t support 3.8 (mills). I can support 2 (mills),” Holtzman said. “I didn’t create the problem that we’re in so I’m not willing to fund it.”

Holtzman said the board’s contractual obligations (to raises for the district’s teachers) are $470,000 — an increase of 3.6 percent for 2013-14.

“The district could balance the budget if it didn’t have that obligation,” he said referring to the raises along with the $88,000 in interest for the turf fields installed at Kaley Field.

The teachers contract is open next year, Hissong said

“I’m a 2-mill man,” Hissong said. “I don’t want to burden anyone with taxes.”

Hissong asked Wilson for her recommendation.

“I am an index person,” she said referring to the 3.8259 mills. “But you have to have a board that is willing to do that.”

The board voted on a 3-mill tax increase with one of the mills going to Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS), but that was voted down 5-3 with Still, Baer, Haines, Hissong and Holtzman voting against the motion.

The same five board members voted against a 2.5 mill hike.

Before the board voted on a 2-mill tax increase, Fridgen spoke out against the motion. “Mrs. Wilson is an index person and it looks like we’re not an index board,” Fridgen said.

Cordell, Fridgen, Shindle and Still voted against the 2 mill tax increase.

The next budget vote will take place June 20 at 6 p.m. in the Greencastle-Antrim Middle School library.

A final budget must be adopted by the end of June.

Graduation decison

Greencastle-Antrim Superintendent C. Gregory Hoover said Thursday night that district officials will decide early Saturday morning on the location of the high school graduation ceremony. Graduation is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday at the football stadium.

Hoover said the decision will be posted by 7:30 a.m. on the district’s website, www.greencastle.k12.pa.us. He said the starting time might be pushed back to accommodate having the ceremony outside instead of inside the high school gymnasium.  

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