Proposed Tax Hike Decreases After Schools' Budget is Cut
Officials project average school tax may increase $190, down from $205 a few weeks ago.
The average homeowner may see a $190 tax increase if the Board of Education approves its proposed budget as it currently stands.
Education officials gave an overview of the 2013-14 budget and how it is developing at a special meeting Thursday.
The administration and board previously estimated the average tax hike to be $205 under the proposed spending plan. The projected tax levy is currently about $131.6 million, down from the $132.2 million that was reported in February.
The projected tax impact to residents due to increases in educational programs, services and fixed costs is $129. Taxes for the average homeowner are scheduled to increase another $47 because the township lost $41 million in ratables since last year. Most of the remaining $14 in the estimated $190 average hike is due to increases in health care costs from the Health Care Reform Act.
More than $8.6 million would need to be cut from the tax levy to have no increase to residents’ tax bills.
Officials have slashed $2.3 million since Feb. 21 but added $1 million in “critical enhancements." Enhancements include hiring a new guidance counselor and world studies teacher at Wayne Hills High School, an additional science teacher at Wayne Valley High School and three staff members at elementary schools.
The district may reinstate three school resource officers in the middle schools. They are full-time Wayne police officers who work with students, council them and assist in breaking up conflicts and during emergencies. Wayne Hills and Wayne Valley each have an officer. The move would cost the district $256,000, half the cost of paying the officers. The town would pay the other half.
Officials are planning not to eliminate any extracurricular clubs but school officials will review what clubs are currently offered and eliminate ones if they so choose, Superintendent Ray Gonzalez said.
“We can’t cut anymore clubs. We need to make sure we have additional opportunities for our students to learn,” Gonzalez said. “Students need them to be competitive when they apply to colleges.”
The budget is still being finalized. Numbers and appropriations for specific line items may change between now and when officials approve the budget at a special public meeting March 27.
Residents may submit questions and suggestions to officials regarding the budget by clicking here.
Editor's note: A copy of the budget presentation shown at the meeting Thursday has been attached to this article.