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Keystone School Board Approves One Mill Tax Hike

Wednesday, June 22, 2022 @ 12:06 AM

Posted by Jacob Deemer

IMG_3156 (1)KNOX, Pa. (EYT) – Taxpayers in the Keystone School District will see a one mill tax increase this upcoming 2022-23 school year with no relief in sight.

(Photo: Captured by Jacob Deemer/EYT.)

The official vote on the motion–initiated by board president John Slagle during the board meeting on Monday night–comes on the heels of a lengthy discussion during last month’s meeting when the board presented its tentative approval of a $17.5 million budget for the upcoming school year.

The tax hike will go toward multiple projects that will need to be funded and completed over the next 10 to 15 years.

“My motion is that we make a one-mill tax increase just for this one year,” Slagle said ahead of the vote. “I know they thought we’d do it for this year, and next year, but I think we just need to go one year at a time.”

The discussion was tabled during May’s meeting, and no action was officially taken until Monday.

“The numbers we’ve looked at in the past weeks, (the increase) is only going to be a drop in the bucket,” Slagle added. “At least it’s something. I think we would be doing this school a disservice to not do some type of tax increase because we’ll be so far behind in the future unless we do this.”

“I don’t disagree at all,” board member Dwayne Van Tassel promptly replied.

Multiple board members noted the unattractive aspects of a tax increase, but most understood the necessity.

In order to fund projects that need to be completed in a timely manner, the school must start funding before it’s too late.

The one-year increase will not solve all the problems, Slagle advised, but it’s a start and will theoretically table the issue until the following year’s budget.

The two main issues the school faces are a boiler, which will need to be replaced in the next five years for a considerable sum, as well as the school’s windows and ventilation system, which are a much shorter timeline for replacement.

“Is the boiler in good enough shape to last three or four more years? Yes, absolutely,” board member Dustin Swartfager said. “Are the windows and Univents good enough to make it four or five years? Not so much. Maybe, but we’re talking about a big hit once it all comes down.”

During the discussion, board member Jason Say was firmly against the tax increase.

“It’s just a really tough time to be raising taxes,” he said. “There’s better times than now. Nobody likes it, is what I’m saying.”

Say, who was elected to the board this past November, noted his inexperience on the board, but did not let that stop him from speaking out against the topic.

“You guys have been here, and I didn’t come in here to push you on the budget,” Say elaborated. “Raising taxes for me in my first year of business is tough.”

“Raising taxes has always been a very deep discussion on this board,” Kenneth Swartfager replied. “It has never been taken lightly.”

When it came to a vote, the motion passed 5-3. Board members Say, Buck Weaver, and Stacey Thompson voted against the motion.

“My biggest concern is we’re going to raise it this year,” Say advised. “We need to come up with a plan.”

“That’d be easier to communicate to the public to say here’s what the plan is. Instead of doing a one year thing and hoping it gets us through, and we’ll see next year.”

Keystone’s Real Estate Tax Rate will be set at 51.587 mills, while the occupation tax rate will stand at 300 mills.

Also during the meeting, the board announced the resignation of Secretary Vernon Lauffer and Kristoffer Willison as his replacement.

In other business, the board approved the following items:

– Hiring of Michael McCormick as acting superintendent.

– Hiring of Jason Hansford as Program Volunteer for the Girls and Boys Varsity Soccer and Co-Ed Junior High Soccer, pending clearances.

– Hiring of Eric Mount as Girls Varsity Soccer Head Coach, pending proper completion of Personnel File Documentation and clearances.

– Hiring of Kenneth Cypher as Co-Ed Junior High Soccer Head Coach, pending proper completion of Personnel File Documentation and clearances.

– Hiring of Koby Buzard as Assistant Coach for the Soccer Program, pending proper completion of Personnel File Documentation and clearances.

– Nathan Ion as Program Volunteer for Girls and Boys Junior High and Varsity Golf Teams, pending clearances.

– Keenan Heeter as Program Volunteer for the Football Program and Weight Room, pending clearances.

– To post and advertise for a Junior High Cheerleading Head Coach.

– Hiring of Taylor Hoffman as Varsity Cheerleading Head Coach, pending proper completion of Personnel File Documentation and clearances.

– Hiring of Dalton Schultz as Varsity and Junior High Cheerleading Head Coach, pending proper completion of Personnel File Documentation and clearances.

– Hiring of Hartford Hartzell and Mallory Reed as Summer Custodians, pending proper completion of Personnel File Documentation and clearances

– Resignation of Alesha Lee as Junior High Cheerleading Head Coach.

– Purchase of elementary bathroom partitions from Rich Turian at a cost of $7,790.00.

– Siemens Contract, as presented.

– Allowing the seniors to have their own parking spaces with permission to paint their space.


Keystone Board Discusses Possibility of Raising Taxes

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