AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

July 3, 2013

School board OKs 1 mill tax hike

Residents speak against increase

By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
Allied News

GROVE CITY — A 1-mill tax increase came with some protest at Monday's Grove City Area School Board meeting.

Residents Elisabeth Muncie and Carolyn Oppenheimer told the board not to raise the millage for the upcoming school budget; however, the 1-mill and the $35,175,505 budget for 2013-14 itself were passed, both by 5 to 3 votes.

Muncie appeared before the board after writing a letter to members on May 29, stating her reasons against the extra tax money.

She homeschools her five children, and her family has supported private and charitable schooling for underprivileged kids, she said.

However, she believed the district should consider those who don't benefit from the public school system when raising taxes - or don't agree with public school philosophies.

Muncie stated that their education choices force her family "to stretch every dollar," and "pay our own way," she said in her letter.

Residents must pay school taxes, even if their children go to private school or they are home schooled.

Oppenheimer believed the district should have also pinched pennies and not raise millage, especially when not all families have annual incomes of $100,000. She said her family brings in about $40,000 per year.

She disagreed with Superintendent Dr. Richard Mextorf's statement that schooling children should not be done "cheaply," she added.

It can, Oppenheimer said, using Wilmington schools as an example, stating that it did not raise mills for next school year. Mercer schools, which came up with a hefty financial deficit, also did not opt to raise millage.

The amount a district can raises taxes each year is determined by the state's Act 1 Index, which is based on the demographics of the district. Any increase above the limit set by Act 1 requires approval by voters.

Grove City  was allowed a little more than the 1 mill increase this year.

The district has generally adopted the allotted increase annually to tuck away in its savings for future projects. One mill will bring in over $164,000 in the upcoming school year.

Last month, Mextorf said districts that don't take advantage of Act 1 to build their capital reserves will often deplete their fund balances.

Using the increase is a "pay forward" strategy, he noted.

The 1-mill increase will mean about $25 more annually in taxes for the average household, Mextorf added.

Resident Karen Turner, on the other hand, was upset about the school not spending more money by not giving summer aides not a raise to $11 per hour, instead of their current $9.75.

Turner spoke at length about how the aides were worth the pay raise.

School board members tabled the increase, which means they took no action on the agenda item.

Published June 19, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.