Thursday, June 26, 2008

GASD Proceeding with Stadium

To be perfectly honest, the Gettysburg Area School District board is not. Honest that is.

First, a capital project like an $8 million stadium should go before the voters as a referendum. It would be wise to offer alternative choices in the referendum.

But not our school board. They have been proceeding as if they have already sold this bill of goods to the voters/taxpayers.

They have not.

They instituted a tax increase -- a real whopper, in spite of state law to the contrary.

Here is how it was explained in the Hanover Evening Sun article by Heather Faulhefer two days ago:

"The tax increase exceeds the district's inflationary index of 4.4, which is set by state law. Under Act 1, if a tax increase goes over the inflationary index, the district would be required to ask voters to approve it, unless the district qualifies for one of several exemptions from the state Department of Education.

Gettysburg applied for and was granted referendum exceptions from the state. This means the district demonstrated to state officials the tax increase would be linked to factors beyond its control. Gettysburg applied for referendum exceptions for special-education costs and maintenance of local tax revenues.
The district will be using the money from the tax increase to help offset cost increases in the district.
This is easy. All the Board has to do is to build in enough increases into the budget to exceed the 4.4 index, indicating the factors of special education and maintenance of tax revenues is beyond their control! Then the state will waive the requirement that the tax increase be passed by the voters in a referendum! [Great work there, General Assembly! NOT!]

Pardon me, but who controls the tax revenue? The tax revenues the GASD will reap this year will truly be out of control, alright, but only because the GASD Board is out of control

Costs of salaries and wages total $22,239,697, a 4.66-percent increase from last year. The increase is due in part to the current teachers' contract, which provides a 4-percent pay increase for next year.
Why are salaries and wages rising more than the 4% pay increase agreed to in the teacher's contract? Who in the school district is receiving a large enough pay raise to add $146,782 to the payroll? And why?

Other significant cost increases come from purchased services, including transportation, energy costs, building repairs and maintenance and legal and audit services.

As it has done in the past three annual budgets, the district would also set aside 0.5 mills, or $307,768, toward future facility-improvement projects. Those projects include plans to build a new Warrior Stadium at the high school, according to Superintendent William Hall. The increase in facility improvements accounts for 12.5 percent of the overall cost increase.
12.5% of the $2.2 million increase in the budget equals $275,000. So the $307,768 is separate from the 12.5% set aside for the stadium [without voter/taxpayer approval!]. And the GASD board has been hoarding the $307,768 for three years, meaning they will now have nearly $1.25 million set aside for their stadium -- and all without getting voter approval for such fundraising from your taxes, and in spite of the promise to raise the money for the stadium from donations!

What the GASD Board is doing is pure horse manure!

Do the math. The increase is $2.2 million. There is $1.25 million sitting in a stadium slush fund. There is a $146,782 surplus allocated to salaries over and above the 4% increase guaranteed in the teacher contract. That is almost 1.4 million in excess budget. That should reduce the increase to about $800,000. We're sure more cuts could be made.

On top of all this, the GASD has apparently been paying an engineering firm to design and plan the stadium. Why is this happening when no approval has been given bythe voters/taxpayers of the district? There is more money already being spent on the stadium that should not be included in the budget, and it should further reduce the increase in the budget, and therefore our taxes.

And worst of all, where is the environmental impact study? There are wetlands that will be destroyed or otherwise infringed upon, based on the design!

GASD School Board members, and School District administrators are not doing their jobs!

Thanks to them you can kiss your property tax rebate good-bye!

Show up at the next school board meeting and let them know how you feel!

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