HERMITAGE SCHOOLS Director: Board faces a $400,000 rise in spending

Mandated cost increases are the equivalent of 5.5 mills of property tax revenues.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- Hermitage school directors are looking at a $400,000 increase in spending in fiscal 2002-03 and the school board hasn't even started budget preparations.
School Director James Lumpp made the announcement at Tuesday's board meeting, saying he thinks taxpayers should be aware of what the board is facing. Lumpp is chairman of the board's finance committee.
Last year's surplus: Pennsylvania had a big surplus last year and that resulted in a 3.9-percent subsidy increase for Hermitage, which passed a 2001-02 budget of $19.8 million, he said.
Despite that, the board had to increase property taxes by 1.5 mills, which cost the average residential taxpayer about $7.50 a year and generates about $74,000 in revenue, school officials said.
The state is facing a $700 million deficit this year, so another subsidy increase is unlikely, Lump said, adding that the district already has been informed that its mandated payment to the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement fund will increase by $260,000 next year.
On top of that, the district has been told that its employee health-care costs will go up about $145,000 next year.
Explanation: Those two increases alone are the equivalent of about 5.5 mills of property tax revenue and that's what the school board is facing before it starts the budget process, Lumpp said.
It doesn't cover any employee raises or programming and other cost increases, he warned. "We are facing some serious fiscal problems," Lumpp said.

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