Tax hike proposed to balance budget

Andrea Rose

Members of the Greencastle-Antrim School Board's finance committee met Thursday to take one last look at the 2020-2021 proposed budget, which is now balanced.

"On May 21, we had a projected deficit, not including any revenue from a tax increase, of $984,703 and we had a lot of discussion and a lot activity since then to get us to a whole new point," said Caroline Royer, chief financial officer.

"We talked about not filling the CEO position to get us a savings of $162,673; we are furloughing our noontime aides for whom that is their only duty, at a savings of $43,544; we have eliminated our use of an outside vendor for in-school suspension and that's a savings of $32,000; we are hoping to reduce our substitute costs by $20,000.

"Our professional staff did agree to a wage freeze and that will save us approximately $360,000; our support staff will take a wage freeze and that will save us $57,000," Royer explained.

She said in addition to anticipated cuts, the board is looking at previously unplanned expenditures.

"We talked about additional COVID expenses that we wanted to make sure we had enough in our budget to cover — technology, safety needs, building needs — so we put $400,000 in there for that, so that gets us to a projected deficit of $722,132."

To make up for that deficit, the board anticipates a tax increase.

"Potential revenue from a tax increase of 3.4 percent would be $758,704 ... coupled with a deficit would result in a completely balanced budget," Royer said.

If real estate taxes are raised the maximum 3 mills to 116.67 mills, the average taxpayer would pay an additional $83.

Despite the good news of a balanced budget, came the sad news of furloughs.

"In amongst all this, these are humans that are being affected because we are furloughing some of these positions. As a board member, we are removed from the situation to a certain degree where we don't necessarily understand the ins and outs of these positions and what exactly they do," said Shannon Blanchard. "Is there a way to get a list of these people being furlough ... what exactly their job detailed and how that is going to shake out and who is going to take on their job duties?:

"Moving forward, there will be a plan in place. We don't have that plan yet," said Dr. Kendra Trail, superintendent.

Trail said she appreciates the hard work and sacrifices from everyone involved in reaching a balanced budget.

"This required a lot of work from many stakeholders, including the union, including the administration, including the support staff. We have to remain cognizant that there are, unfortunately, some support staff members who are going to be furloughed," Trail said. "I believe for the most part ... this is a win-win for everybody."

The budget will be presented at the June 29 board meeting for final approval. The 6 p.m. meeting will be live-streamed on the district's website: