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Greencastle-Antrim School Board passes budget with a 2.25-mill tax increase

Average taxpayer in the district will pay an additional $51.71 in taxes next year

June 20, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — The Greencastle-Antrim School Board passed a 2013-14 budget Thursday night that includes a real estate tax increase of 2.25 mills.

After failing to agree on a budget at its June 6 meeting despite four taxing options — including 2 mills, 2.5 mills, 3 mills and 3.8 mills — the board quickly approved a new option of 2.25 at Thursday’s meeting.

One mill represents $1 of every $1,000 assessed property value.

The nine-member board voted 6-1 to approve the district’s $35 million budget, with board member Michael Still casting the dissenting vote. Board members William Thorne and Michael Shindle were absent.

The average taxpayer in the Greencastle-Antrim School District will pay an additional $51.71 in taxes next year, Business Manager Jolinda Wilson said.

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Still said he could not vote for a budget that included a 2 percent pay hike for support staff, referring to the June 6 board vote that approved a pay increase for those employees.

“That was an addition to an already deficit-rich budget,” he said about the raise included in next year’s budget.

Wilson said even with the revenue generated from the millage increase, the district would have to pull approximately $450,000 from the fund balance to balance the budget.

Board member Joel Fridgen, who has supported raising taxes to the Act 1 tax cap to address future needs in the district, was content with the 2.25 mill increase.

“I’m fine with 2.25 (mills), and I think it’s a reasonable compromise,” he said.

“We gained a little bit of money, which I think was important to get closer to the index.”

The board had 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, or property taxes,  for each Pennsylvania school district before exceptions or voter referendum.

In other action, school officials are moving forward with renovation plans that were shelved two years ago when the economy took a nosedive.

At Thursday’s meeting, the school board voted to move forward with a plan prepared by EI Associates of Harrisburg (Pa.).

Superintendent C. Gregory Hoover said EI Associates were paid for their work on the project.

The plans have been submitted but they haven’t been approved, he said.

Hoover said the Pennsylvania Department of Education is not accepting any more projects for reimbursement, but since the middle school/high school project already is in the system it should still be eligible for reimbursement.

The district will ask EI Associates to seek state approval for the plan and then attend the board meeting in August.

The district would like to start construction in the 2016-17 school year if everything falls into place, Hoover said.

“We have absolutely no empty classrooms anywhere,” Hoover said.

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