WEST CAPE MAY — Skyrocketing enrollment is helping boost the amount of taxes needed to pay for the local school by slightly more than two percent but the state is actually picking up most of the added costs.
It was just a few years ago that the district was down to 38 students and looking into consolidating with a neighboring school. The pre-K-6 district joined the state’s School Choice Program and added 26 students from neighboring towns, Business Administrator Alfred Savio said.
Each choice student brings additional state aid. The aid rose from $140,515 to $304,026 last year, and Savio said it jumping another $175,000 in the new budget, to $479,604.
“We expect eight more choice students next year for a total of 34. That’s why we had such a bump in state aid,” Savio said.
The extra students possibly saved the school, but Savio said they are having other benefits. The school is splitting up some of the larger classes next year and added a Spanish teacher.
“Choice has been our savior,” Savio said.
The state aid lowered the tax rate last year by more than 1 cent for each $100 of assessed value. This year the rate will rise slightly, from 19.16 cents per $100 of value to 19.21 cents.
The taxes on a $100,000 home would go from $191.60 to $192.10. Savio said the average property assessment here is $504,000. The tax bill for the average assessment would be $968. The bill at last year’s rate would have been $965.
The budget is up $162,732 to $1.42 million, but this reflects the increased state aid. The amount to be raised by taxes rose from $858,618 to $873,041. The impact on the tax rate was buffered somewhat by a slight increase in the ratable base.
“Ratables went up for the first time in a few years,” Savio said.
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