It won’t be easy

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

In the spring of 1960, the Greencastle School Board and the Antrim Township School Board both voted to raise real estate taxes by 40 percent. The hike from 25 to 35 mills was tied to the construction of the new high school. Three other smaller taxes were also re-instituted. Neither school board however expected to be able to meet its expenditures even with the increased income from property and other taxes. They prepared to dip into reserve funds.

That was a very difficult budget year for the community. The 2010-11 budget year can also be included in that category.

Last year the Greencastle-Antrim School Board pledged to not raise real estate taxes in such a strained economy. The board fulfilled that promise.

No such guarantee was made in 2010 despite a continuing poor economy. Despite efforts to trim expenditures, the school board admitted last month that a property tax increase was inevitable. While we feel this determination is regrettable, we commend the board for looking for ways to trim. We also hope they are continuing to do so.

The Finance Committee of the school board sliced $674,000 from the spending plan coming into last month’s meeting where the board voted to adopted a preliminary budget that would increase real estate taxes by 3.2 mills. That is the amount that the state allows without requiring public approval. The board also said it hoped that more cuts could be made before the final budget is voted on June 4. We certainly hope that happens. We don’t want to see an automatic hike at the maximum 3.2 mill rate.

We know that these will be difficult decisions. We also know that we have a good school district. The feat will be how to find that balance — to not hit the taxpayers too hard and continue to provide solid public education. It won’t be easy.