Fairfield Area School District property owners will incur a 4 percent tax increase this year.
The school board unanimously voted 8-0 to approve the 2023-24 budget. Board member Kelly Christiano was absent.
The plan includes $21.2 million in revenue and $22.9 million in expenditures. During May’s workshop, Business Manager Tim A. Stanton told the board of directors that a tax increase is necessary to keep pace with rising costs.
Stanton referred to himself as a “fiscal conservative and taxpayer advocate” and acknowledged tax increases are rarely popular. If the board did not increase taxes, Stanton said, the district would struggle. The board is allowed to increase taxes 4.8 percent without seeking voter approval, Stanton said.
The average property owner’s tax bill will increase by about $72. The 4 percent tax increase will generate $385,000, Stanton said.
Stanton said he believes incremental tax increases are necessary every year to avoid a large increase after years of flat revenue. Stanton said he recommended no tax increase last year because he was new to the district and did not have a strong understanding of its budgetary needs.
Stanton said Fairfield Area School District has the lowest property tax millage rate in Adams County. The district will soon enter into negotiations with the teachers’ union and he suspects wage increases will be necessary to maintain high-quality educators.
Stanton also defended his proposal by explaining the need for a strong savings account. The district currently pays for three bonds that were opened prior to Stanton’s arrival and interest rates are an added cost that Stanton believes can be avoided in the future.
Superintendent’s salary increased
The board voted 7-1 to increase Superintendent Thomas Haupt’s salary. Board member Candance Miller cast the lone dissenting vote. Haupt now earns $166,416. The district hired Haupt in October 2021 and he began his duties in February 2023. He was previously the superintendent of Millersburg School District in northwestern Dauphin County.
Football coach resigns
The board, without comment, approved the immediate resignation of Head Football Coach Jake Johnson. The coach’s departure comes before he even saw the Knights play one game on the gridiron. The district hired Johnson in March to replace Jason Thurston, who resigned last fall after five seasons with the team.
Several parents and program supporters told the board in May that Johnson announced at a meeting he was going to recommend the district end the program. Haupt told the board that Johnson does not have the power to cancel a season.
Fairfield has struggled to build a football program since it began in 2004. The team has had only two winning seasons since its inception. Last year, the Knights canceled its Week 3 game against Hamburg when injuries prevented them from fielding enough players.Read about Adams County’s assessed property value
Alex J. Hayes, Editor, has spent almost two decades in the Adams County news business. He is heavily involved in the community through his volunteer roles at the Rotary Club of Gettysburg, Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, United Way of Adams County, and Healthy Adams County. Alex is also a freelance writer for several other publications in South Central Pennsylvania.
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