Last updated: May 28. 2014 11:07PM - 1800 Views
By Camille Fioti Times Leader Correspondent

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HANOVER TWP. — The Hanover Area School Board voted during a special meeting Tuesday to approve the district’s 2014-2015 preliminary budget, which includes a tax increase.

The $25.6 million spending plan includes a .5057 millage increase, which would bring the total millage to 17.3790. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.

The increase would amount to roughly $25 per year for a home valued at $50,000, said Business Administrator Tom Cipriano.

Although the district recouped $4.7 million in assessed value from former KOZ properties, the increased value is actually only $43,600 because of an overall loss of $4.65 million due to property tax assessment lowering and bankruptcies, Cipriano said.

Cipriano added the board will continue to make adjustments to the budget between now and mid-June, but added that not much can be done until the state finalizes its budget and contract negotiations are settled with the food service workers, who are members of the support staff union. He said he expects the board to vote on the budget the week of June 23.

The contract for the district’s current food service provider, Aramark, expires at the end of June. The district received proposals from Aramark as well as Metz Culinary Management and Nutrition Inc.

The three proposals included district profit figures based on two scenarios: If the company provides only food service, and if the company provides food service as well as taking on the district’s food service workers.

For the first time ever, the food service companies promised a guaranteed profit for the first year of the contract. Metz guaranteed to pay the district $175,000, with Nutrition Inc. and Aramark guaranteeing $172,000 and $140,000, respectively.

Cipriano added that if the profit is not reached by the end of the first year, the district would be reimbursed the difference. “This is $175,000 that we can’t look the other way on,” he said.

Fearful they may lose their jobs, or face a cut in benefits, a group of food service workers, accompanied by other support staff members, attended the school board’s regular meeting earlier this month to protest the proposed change in food service providers.

Cipriano said the employees would actually make out better as employees of the food service companies.

“All three guaranteed in writing to hire the current employees at the exact hourly wage,” he said. He also pointed out that if the workers became employees of the food service companies, they’d be able to collect unemployment compensation in the summer.

The board also voted to approve the lease with Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 for the Lyndwood Elementary School building.

The board will hold its next work session on June 2 at 5:30 p.m., followed by an executive session at 6:30 and the regular meeting at 7 p.m.

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