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Charleroi Area seeks cuts

| Wednesday, June 22, 2005

FALLOWFIELD TOWNSHIP - The Charleroi Area School Board hopes to shave up to 4 mills from its proposed 2005-06 school year budget before final adoption next week.

The $17.2 million tentative spending plan introduced last month is supported by an 8-mill increase in the property tax rate. For a home valued at $60,000, an 8-mill increase would cost an additional $120 a year.

During an informational meeting Tuesday, board President Kenneth Wiltz said the board will continue this week to cut expenditures and search for revenue that may have been overlooked in formulating the preliminary fiscal plan. He said the board has cut expenditures equal to about 2 mills from the proposed budget and hopes to whittle away another mill or two by June 28, when the board is expected to approve a final spending plan.

The district raised taxes by 4 mills in each of the past two years.

"We have been working hard to get the budget down to a respectable number that we can live with and the taxpayers can live with," Wiltz said.

Wiltz said spending cuts are being made across the board. He said the retirements of two teachers since last month and the packaging of some special education matters will result in additional savings.

According to the board president, increases in insurance costs and an expected minimal state subsidy are contributing factors to a millage hike.

Wiltz said the district earlier this year decided not to hire an outside firm to perform lawn maintenance. The cost of that service is equal to roughly 2 mills in revenue.

During the public comment session, former board member Dave Ceccone said the district should have raised property taxes 2 mills during the years it chose to hold the line on taxes. He accused the three newest board members of reneging on their campaign promises.

"These people said they weren't going to raise taxes," Ceccone said. "They raised taxes last year and they are going to raise them again this year."

Wiltz, who is not among the three, said he does not recall those promises.

"I don't know if anybody can ever go on record as saying that," Wiltz said. "As painful as it is sometimes, we still have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the school district."

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