2009-06-18 / Front Page

Central Fulton Taxpayers To See Millage Increase

Real estate taxes hinging upon state budget; board refrains from giving salary increases
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

JLG is set to rebuild 800 units of the telehandler shown here for the Army. JLG is set to rebuild 800 units of the telehandler shown here for the Army. With so many variables still under consideration by the state's General Assembly in adopting the commonwealth's budget, the question still looms how much of the money allotted in the 2009-10 state's fiscal budget will eventually trickle down to area school districts. Given the uncertainty, members of the Central Fulton School Board took some extra precautions of their own last Tuesday evening in announcing not one but two figures as possibilities for real estate millage rates.

Board member Robert C. Snyder II announced on June 9 that in the event the Legislature fails to pass the budget with "basic subsidies for public education," the Central Fulton School District would be forced to incur an additional $70,000 in expenditures. As a result, a millage increase of up to 1.3475 would be required for real estate taxes.

Based on the Snyder's announcement, the board unanimously agreed to jump real estate taxes by the amount of one mill or 1.3475 mills, the actual amount hinging directly upon the future decision by the General Assembly. Either increase would raise the real estate tax from its current rate of 24.5 mills to either 25.5 or 25.8475 mills for the 2009-10 school year. The rate would therefore be $2.55 or $2.58475 on each $100 of assessed valuation of taxable property.

In conjunction with their decision, and in following the recommendation of the district's Budget and Finance Committee, the budget for the upcoming school year was set at $13,717,011 in anticipated revenue. Meanwhile, both Act 511 and Act 679 per capita taxes were set at $5. Occupation taxes were levied at $10, which is the same amount approved by the board in recent years.

Appearing on behalf of himself and other concerned taxpayers, McConnellsburg area resident Loren Leese was the lone individual to petition the board regarding last month's announcement to raise taxes. Leese asked the board to take into consideration the "shape of the county" before acting on any proposed millage hikes.

"JLG is almost shut down. Mellott's is as slow as I can remember it being. I will make less money this year than I made in a lot of years. Car dealerships are shutting down. Farmers' milk prices are down to nothing. Everyone is getting to be in bad shape," said Leese prior to the board taking action.

"I understand business. I've been involved in big business, small business all of my life. I understand that you often have to do things that are unpopular. Sometimes you have to look within yourself to realize you may have to make cuts some place and not ask for more," said Leese, who added while he did not consider himself to be in "dire shape" he knew of plenty individuals who are.

Board President Dennis Richards responded to Leese's comments, saying the board is very well aware of the current state of the economy. "We're all in the same economy together," said Leese.

In other financial matters, the board was also in unanimous agreement on a 8-0 rollcall vote to withhold giving salary increases to the administration, support staff, board secretary and the athletic director and trainer. Board member Parker Knepper was unable to attend last week's meeting that also resulted in a one-year contract extension being penned with the Central Fulton Education Association.

The board noted the association had already voted on the professional contract and agreed upon the extension with a 2.1 percent average increase for 2010-11. The decision, the board said, will result in an estimated $100,000 savings for the district.

An additional extension was granted regarding the district's current retirement incentive. As a result, the retirement incentive for the 2010-11 school year will remain unchanged from that of 2009-10 with the notification due date changed to March 1.

Annual approval was also given to the Homestead/ Farmstead Exclusion resolution, which is tied directly to gaming money. In the event, taxes are levied at 25.5 mills, the property reduction for eligible participants during 2009 would be $228.61. In the event, the millage rate is at the higher index, proper adjustments will be made to the resolution to reflect the alteration in real estate taxes.

Building and grounds

A three-year lease was approved with Torro for a new tractor. Annual lease payments for the previously budgeted purchase will be $6,658.24. The school's Massey Ferguson tractor will be advertised for sale by sealed bid only at a starting price of $4,500.

Personnel

James I. Smith tendered his resignation for the transportation/ guard position. Smith's resignation was effective retroactive to the conclusion of the 2008- 09 school year.

An additional resignation was accepted as submitted by emotional support instructor Jennifer L. Miller. Miller's employment with the district was slated to end on June 30.

Tammy J. Barnes of Big Cove Tannery was added to the substitute secretary/aide lists. Barnes' clearances have been submitted and are in order.

Tenure was granted for middle school teacher Susan Cordell and elementary teachers Jennifer Gress and Dawnielle Swope.

Leah Eslinger was authorized to serve as an Extended School Year (ESY) instructor at an hourly rate of $24.50. Eslinger's credentials and clearance are in order.

The following individuals salary scale:

• David Garland, girls varsity basketball coach, $3,445

• Dorothy Doyle, girls varsity basketball first assistant coach, $2,970

• Doug Seiders, girls varsity basketball second assistant coach, $2,295

• Allison Fraker, girls varsity basketball third assistant coach, $2,195

• Nicole Chesnut, girls varsity volleyball assistant coach, volunteer basis

• Brian Strait, drama set design, $1,445

• Linda Henry, Odyssey of the Mind, $1,820

• Linda Henry, drama director, $2,520 and

• Kimberly Richards, yearbook advisor, $2,845. Policy

In following the recommendation of the Policy Committee, the board approved alterations to the middle/high school handbook. Changes were specifically made to the area concerning the induction of National Honor Society members, said middle/high school Principal Todd Beatty.

Curriculum

Jamie Taylor, community engagement coordinator, and Elen Ott, director of the Fulton County Center for Families, distributed samples of their organization's school readiness packets to the board for review. The packets are being distributed as part of a grant obtained by the Center for Families, which is helping districts with the transition of K-4 and kindergarten students into the classroom. Taylor and Ott also touched on their work with homecare providers as well as their recent Kids Fest at the Southern Fulton School District that saw an estimated 125 children in attendance.

Members of the district's administrative staff will be travelling to the Hilton Garden Inn located in State College for a retreat hosted by Tuscarora Intermediate Unit #11 on June 23-24. Participation in the event is at no cost to the district.

In following past practice, the board opted to cancel its July meeting and resume the monthly meeting in August. In the meantime, the board's Personnel Committee was granted authorization to fill vacant positions arising with qualified candidates. Final approval for those hirings would then be given by the full board in August.

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