FRHSD Budget Increases Tax Levy 1 Percent
The increase in state aid helped the district keep the tax levy increase low.
The Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD) presented their 2012-2013 budget last night at Freehold High School and the Board of Education unanimously adopted the budget, which is beneath the 2 percent cap and will require a 1 percent increase in the general tax fund levy.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Administration and Board Secretary Sean Boyce conducted the presentation of the budget, explaining how he worked to balance next year’s district budget of $187,074,086, a 4.2 percent increase from the 2011-2012 budget, which had no increase in the tax levy.
Currently, the state requires that the increase in the general cap levy not exceed 2 percent, with far fewer provisions for exceeding this cap than in the past, Boyce explained.
Since the FRHSD did not utilize the 2 percent cap last year made available to them, the state allows districts to “bank cap”, or set that 2 percent aside to be utilized in a future year. Therefore, the district essentially had 4 percent to work with for the 2012-2013 school year in order to stay under cap, following state law, but the district decided not to increase the tax levy 4 percent.
The increase in state aid to the district this year, the highest awarded in New Jersey, helped the district to maintain a low tax levy increase of just 1 percent, Boyce said, and the majority of this new money will be going to the classroom.
“The charge of the school district is to assess and determine what the aggregate will of the community is, as far as where is the right balance between the quality of programs, the desire for the quality and scope of programs, and the capacity to fund those programs,” Boyce said.
New distinctive electives and classes will be offered next year, including additional AP courses. Some of the other supplemental instructional resources will go towards new instructional and support staff.
The large 6.6 percent increase in state aid is due to a new funding formula, and one of the aspects looked at in deciphering allocated funds was adequacy - what budget amount is adequate for a specific district. The state discovered that FRHSD has been significantly below adequacy in terms of aid and, therefore, has promised to bring the district up to adequacy over the next five years, starting with this $3 million in aid for 2012-2013.
Also, last year the state offered school districts supplemental state aid in addition to the state aid originally provided. The FRHSD decided to take this additional aid, a total of $1.7 million, and roll it over to be used for the 2012-2013 school year, when Federal aid would diminish significantly, Boyce said. And Federal aid has decreased 95.7 percent since last year.
“This budget is $4.5 million below the adequacy budget,” Boyce said, which is a funding formula established by the state which assesses what each district should be spending. The adequacy budget is calculated based on the profile of each district and the profile of their population, and the fact that FRHSD is well below the adequacy budget is a big accomplishment, according to Boyce.
So, how is this budget going to affect your property taxes? Boyce said that the district budgets’ impact on property taxes depends on three things: the value of your home, the number of students in the K-8 school district in your town, and the number of students in the high school district in your town.
“The state takes the value of your town’s property and splits it based on the ratio of elementary kids and high school students, then takes all those high school pieces and that becomes the basis of the high school district,” Boyce explained. Your home’s value in relation to the total value of the high school pool is how they decide how to allocate the taxes, Boyce clarified further.
Colts Neck, Farmingdale, and Freehold Boro will see a decrease in property taxes, their taxes dropping $0.08, $0.89, and $3.70, respectively. Englishtown, Freehold Township, Howell, and Marlboro will all be seeing property tax increases based on this budget, their taxes are rising $9.43, $1.20, $0.27, and $0.84, respectively.
The reason for the high increase in property taxes for Englishtown stems from the fact that there is an unusually large number of eighth grade students leaving the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School (MERS) district and entering the FRHSD, Boyce said. This change will balance itself somewhat as the taxes for the MERS district will decrease $8.20 since the same eighth grade students will be graduating from the K-8 district.
The Freehold Borough saw the highest decrease in property taxes for this budget since the Borough population saw a 3.7 percent drop in high school enrollment, but their property values stayed the same. This drop will also somewhat be balanced as the Borough has just seen an increase in enrollment for the K-8 district.
“We genuinely believe that we put together a budget that strikes the right balance for this community between our expectations, for programs and services, and our capacity to fund those,” Boyce said.
A full slideshow presentation of the 2012-2013 budget will soon be available at the Freehold Regional High School District Web site and Boyce said he is available at his administrative offices in Englishtown for any questions and comments about the budget.