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Salisbury Mulls 4 Percent Tax Increase and Teacher Cuts

Faced with declining enrollment and more unfunded state mandates, the Salisbury School Board is considering raising taxes 4 percent and cutting 2.5 staff positions.

Faced with declining enrollment and more unfunded state mandates, the is considering raising taxes 4 percent and cutting 2.5 staff positions as it tries to balance a for 2012-2013.

On Monday, Business Administrator Christine Stafford presented the board with five options to close an $819,215 deficit on an anticipated $30.3 million in expenses and $29.4 million in revenue.

The options ranged from:

  • no tax increase but use the district's fund balance and make additional cuts.
  • 1.7 percent tax increase (about $56.66 average increase) and use the fund balance or make additional cuts.
  • 3 percent tax increase (about $100) and use the fund balance or make additional cuts.
  • 4.06 percent tax increase (about $134.91), no use of the fund balance and no additional cuts.
  • 5.82 percent tax increase, the maximum allowed, using the Pennsylvania State Education Retirement System exception by adding to committed fund balance.

 The district has about $2 million in unreserved, undesignated funds.

And because of , the administration recommended reducing professional positions by:

  • eliminating 1 temporary professional employee.
  • eliminating 1 longterm substitute.
  • eliminating 1.51 professional positions.
  • not replacing 1 professional retirement.
  • replacing two professional retirements with one lower full time employee.
  • no new positions.

Salisbury Middle School will decrease its four teaching teams to three teams, Assistant Superintendent Louise Beauchemin said. She said staff reductions are based on seniority.

Among support staff positions that will be reduced or eliminated:

  • 1 custodial retirement will be replaced with a part-time position.
  • 3 part-time instructional aid retirements/resignations will not be replaced.
  • 4 full-time instructional aid positions will have their hours reduced.
  • 1 full-time food service worker position will have reduced hours.
  • 6 part-time instructional aid positions wil be eliminated.
  • 1 courier position wil be eliminated/realigned.
  • no new position.

Of the seven board members present, most said they would likely approve the recommended 4 percent increase, although reluctantly, at their meeting Wednesday, May 9 when they will vote to adopt the proposed final budget.

A 4 percent increase means the homeowner of a property with an average assessed value of $71,000, would pay an extra $134.91, or 1.9 mills, for a total of 48.7540 mills.

"I have a hard time swallowing the 4 percent," said board member George Gatanis, who preferred a 2 percent tax increase. He suggested they look for other areas to cut.

"In what way? Extracurriculars? What are you thinking?," asked board member Jane Fischer.

Gatanis said he was disturbed the Salisbury Middle School swimming program will be cut next year to save $10,000 and said they should consider looking at more expensive cuts.

Board member Tom Mantz said he would prefer a tax increase below 4 percent. "I look at what people are making and their raises over the last several years. I don't know many who got 3 percent raises, much less 4 percent."

The board will vote Wednesday, May 9 on a proposed final budget, although reductions can still be made after it is adopted and before it votes on a final budget June 13.

Kim Harrison May 09, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Please don't cut the middle school swimming program!!!!!!!! The middle school swimming program is the feeder program to the very accomplished high school swim team. The 2011-2012 boys' swim team placed first in the district with six of those boys qualifying for the state swim meet where the team placed fourth overall! And, of note, the boys were just one point away from third place and nine points away from the second place finishers. Of those six boys who were state qualifiers we had one gold medalist (yes, a state champion!!!) and the remaining 5 received All State status (at least an eighth place finish).
Randolph Pomerance May 10, 2012 at 12:29 AM
This isn't about swimming, this is about the fact that two teachers, one that has been the district more than five years, are being eliminated. If this stuff continues, there will be almost no job security. The district could possibly collapse on itself.
JS May 10, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Unfortunately, it all comes down to mandated payments to the statewide teacher's pension program, which keeps gobbling up a larger and larger share of budgets. There isn't much fat left anywhere in the district budget - the District has done a good job in the past of operating fairly lean. In the absence of the state being willing to address the core problem, the only remaining choices for School Districts are tax increases or cutting programs/staff/services.
Mik May 12, 2012 at 06:55 AM
I'm starting to understand these mils homeowners pay to the township/school district. Any chance you know if business pay the same? Does the school district get $ from these entities? I just learned LVH doesn't pay any taxes - Are businesses taxed at a higher rate? (township & sd) Any differences in the levels of business or strictly property value? (i.e. mall vs. the Budget rental vs. McDs? - hate to pick on Lehigh Street)

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