Bellwood-Antis residents facing new tax increase

BELLWOOD – Taxpayers in the Bellwood-Antis school district will face a tax increase for the ninth time in 10 years.

School board members voted 6-2 Tuesday to approve a $16,644,526 proposed final budget that calls for an increase of 6.31 mills in the real estate tax.

The increase would take millage from 98.7148 mills to 105.0248 mills and would cost the average property owner an additional $72.84.

Business manager and board secretary Kimberly M. VanGorder said May 6 that even with a 6.31-mill tax increase, the

board faced a deficit of $959,533.

VanGorder had urged board members not to use the $1.1 million fund balance to help balance the budget.

However, board members used a series of cuts and restructuring, as well as $527,582 of the fund balance, to balance the proposed final budget.

Some of those cuts included a reduction of one person on the technology staff, elimination of a computer aide, reducing the custodial staff by one and not replacing the transportation secretary who has retired.

Board members had discussed dropping the drivers education program, but for now that program remains in the budget, VanGorder said.

President Steve Winterstein, Vice President Lisa Kovac, Donna Tyler, Steve Burns, Scott Boyer and Kenneth Loucks voted in favor of the budget, while Jeff Nycum and Chris McCartney voted against approval. Robert Fisher was absent.

“I just saw it for the first time now and didn’t have time to dissect it,” Nycum said.

Winterstein had hoped for a lower increase in the millage.

“My main thing is the millage, but we will have an opportunity to drop the millage,” Winterstein said.

VanGorder was not happy about using part of the fund balance.

“It will affect our bond rating if we want to refinance,” VanGorder said.

Board members are considering a refinancing of bond issue 2010A as a money-saving effort.

Leslie L. Bear, managing director of Robert W. Baird & Co., Exton, suggested board members consider a “taxable restructuring” of the bond issue, which could save the district about $317,000 for the 2014-15 school year.

“We can restructure it and extend the debt for four years,” Bear said.

Bear also gave board member some suggestions on financing a new roof for the high school/middle school. The roof is 25 years old and in need of replacement.

“We have 35 to 50 leaks a year. We are putting money in it every year,” said Randy Showalter, maintenance director.

“We have a 25-year-old roof. Water is going to find its way in,” Winterstein said.

Changes are likely to be made to the budget prior to final adoption planned for June 24, VanGorder said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.