EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Residents will see the school portion of their property-tax bill increase by 2.5 percent under a $129.2 million school budget the township Board of Education approved this week in an 8-1 vote.
The 4.4-cent rate increase sets the township school tax at $1.857 per $100 of assessed property value. For a home assessed at the township average of $208,100, this translates into a $3,864 school tax bill, about $93 more this year.
Board member Lisa Dagit cast the lone vote against the proposal. She said she did so because township taxpayers should get a tax break. Speaking as a career educator, she said she believed the township district could put together a less expensive budget.
The approved budget is not significantly different from the one introduced earlier this year, board Vice Chairman Louis Della Barca said.
He supported the budget, saying, “I think we need to do what we did.” Any further cuts would hurt students and staff, he said.
The budget increase comes as the district enrollment has begun to shrink. It is down almost 6 percent from 2010-11’s peak enrollment of 7,864 students. That trend will likely continue, since younger grades are generally smaller than older grades.
When the district proposed the budget earlier this year, Superintendent Scott McCartney said the district has adapted to the smaller class sizes by eliminating the equivalent of more than 100 full-time positions during the past several years.
He also criticized state budget caps that generally limit overall spending increases at 2 percent, despite other costs increasing at faster rates.
About 60 percent of the school budget is paid for by local taxes. School and township officials have long decried what they believe to be the state not following its local education funding regulations, saying township residents have to make up millions of dollars that otherwise would be coming from Trenton.
School taxes are a portion of the overall property-tax bill. That includes township and county government taxes.
Township officials approved a $37.5 million municipal budget in early April that increased the local-government tax rate by 1.2 cents to 51.7 cents per $100 of assessed value. That translates to a $25 increase and a $1,076 local property-tax bill for the owner of a home with the average assessment.
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