Bellwood-Antis board approves tax increase

BELLWOOD — Bellwood-Antis School Board members Tuesday agreed to raise real estate taxes for the 2019-20 school year — but the decision took longer than expected.

After the seven board members present voted unanimously to approve the $19,069,997 spending plan — which includes a 0.180 mill increase in taxes (a 1.97 percent increase) and was the recommendation of the board’s finance committee — only four members voted for the millage increase.

A millage increase requires at least five votes — a majority of the full board — said Kimberly VanGorder, board secretary/treasurer.

Scott Boyer, Kathy Burch, Tom Finn and Bob Fisher voted for the increase while Kevin Luensmann, Jason Lynn and Chris McCartney voted against it. Ben Irvin and Jeff Nycum were absent.

The vote to not increase the millage led to a lengthy discussion and eventually another vote.

Luensmann suggested not increasing taxes and keeping the millage where it was until “we know we need more money.”

Superintendent Thomas McInroy estimated the board could have a surplus of between zero dollars and $200,000 at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

“Nobody likes to raise taxes. The well is only so deep. We didn’t raise taxes for two years. We have turned over every stone. There is no more cutting. I know this budget as well as the back of my hand. If you want a school that is a premier school in the area, you can’t get a Cadillac for the price of a rusty Yugo,” McInroy said.

McCartney then asked if the 1.97 percent increase is enough.

“A 1.97 percent increase is the minimum we can get away with,” McInroy said.

After a lengthy discussion and a new motion, Luensmann, McCartney and Lynn changed their minds and the motion passed 7-0.

“Your faith in us is appreciated. We will do our best not to let you down,” McInroy said.

The spending plan calls for expenditures of $19,060,997 and revenues of $18,134,942, VanGorder said.

VanGorder said expenditures were up 3.0 percent and revenues were up 2.6 percent from the 2018-19 budget.

The budget was balanced by using $935,055 from the district’s fund balance, VanGorder said.

The increase, which will generate $104,325, increases millage from 9.14 to 9.32 mills. The increase per average parcel will be $25.48 annually, VanGorder said.

There are no increases or decreases in the number of personnel for the 2019-20 school year. Increases to the budget are the normal contractual increases, including salaries, retirement and health care, VanGorder said.

In other action board members:

n Approved the use of $39,214 from the committed fund balance account established for the future replacement expenditures for building and grounds, technology and communications for the purpose of purchasing digital displays for the middle school.

n Approved cafeteria prices for the 2019-20 school year with no increase for student breakfast and lunch prices but a 5 cent increase for adult breakfasts and a 25 cent increase for adult lunches.

n Approved Jeff Hanna and Tim Mercer as school security officers for the 2019-20 school year at a rate of $20 per hour not to exceed eight hours per day with a half hour lunch.

n Hired Leah Frederick as a new elementary teacher at a salary of $44,489 effective at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

n Hired Shana Helsley as a new elementary special education teacher at a salary of $43,990 effective at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.