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Hempfield Area OKs tax increase

| Monday, June 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

The Hempfield Area School Board on Monday night passed a budget for next school year that will raise property taxes 2.47 mills.

Officials blamed the hike on increases in the amount the district will pay in state pension funds and salaries.

The real estate tax hike is Hempfield's ninth in 12 years.

The $95.75 million budget raises the property tax to 82.21 mills from 79.74 mills.

Hempfield's budget adoption comes at a time when similar hikes are being made in neighboring districts, officials said.

“Where we're maybe a little bit better off than some districts,” Business Manager Wayne Wismar said, “is we're not furloughing this year, we're not reducing programs, (and) we're not increasing class sizes.”

The vote was unanimous.

Officials reviewed a recent survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Association of School Board Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.

It found 15 percent of surveyed districts plan to furlough employees in the next school year. That same survey found that 43 percent of respondents felt that their school's financial situation would worsen in that span.

Without the tax increase, the district forecast a deficit of just over $2 million for next school year.

When accounting for the increase, the deficit is forecast at a little more than $570,000, and should be covered by the school's $6.58 million fund balance.

Matthew Guerry is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was first published online.

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