NEWS

Tax hike capped

PAT FRIDGEN

Real estate taxes to fund the Greencastle-Antrim School District will not be raised by more than 3.2 mills in 2010.

One order of business for the newly-seated school board last week was to decide how much taxes could be increased for the 2010-2011 school year. Business Manager Richard Lipella said if the board wanted to go higher than the Act 1 real estate index, the budget had to be ready in January. Otherwise, the budget will be finalized in June. The index is 3.5 percent of the current mill rate, 91.7, which equaled 3.2 mills. The school board approved the resolution not to go over, knowing the budget will be tough to balance this year.

"It's very difficult to give good information right now. Revenues are the key," Lipella said. "There's no growth."

He cited stagnant Earned Income Tax receipts and interest earnings down $130,000 from last year. The 3.2 mill increase would bring in $580,000, but the district will still be short $200,000.

"We're looking at the expenditure side heavily," he added.

Most expenses are dedicated to personnel. Contributions to the teacher retirement fund need a reserve because of an expected spike in five years, Lipella said. Currently $740,000 has accumulated based on 4.78 percent of salaries. The state has indicated it may require the rate to escalate. Health insurance rates aren't out yet. He said he would have a better picture of the budget in February.