HAMMONTON — The total school tax rate will increase about 5 cents to $2.08 per $100 valuation, under the Board of Education’s proposed 2014 budget.
The district will lay off one administrator or supervisor in order to keep the tax increase to a minimum, said Superintendent of Schools C. Dan Blachford. But since the district is still in the midst of contract negoations, final numbers on how much must be spent on salary increases are not yet known.
The owner of the average home, valued at $136,000, would pay $2,829 in school taxes under the new budget, compared to $2,761 this year. It’s an increase of about $68, or 2.5 percent.
“According to an analysis (by the Education Law Center ) our district should have 30 administrators and we have 16,” said Blachford. “We’re already in trouble with administrators and we are going to lose one.”
He said the district has not yet identified who would be losing a job.
The total school tax levy is going up almost $500,000 to $18.2 million this year, with a general tax levy of $16.5 million (from $16.2 million last year) and a debt service fund tax levy of $1.67 million (from $1.5 million).
The total school budget is decreasing from about $49 million to $43.6 million, but most of the decrease is related to grant money received last December for improvements in the middle school, Blachford said. About $5 million is being spent from reserve funds and grants to replace windows and the HVAC system in the middle school, to provide air conditioning for the first time, and allow teachers to control the temperature in each classroom. Those improvements have no affect on the tax rate, he said.
School Board Business Administrator Barbara Prettyman declined to say how much of an increase is built into the budget for salaries, because the district is in the middle of contract negoations. But she said she made projections for salary costs based on past history.
“Salaries and benefits are always 80 to 85 percent of the budget,” she said, and usually account for the largest increases in the budget.
In addition to the school tax increase, Town Council has proposed a 2014 budget that raises the local government’s tax rate about 3.4 percent to $0.90 per $100 of assessed value. The owner of a home valued at $136,000 would pay about $1,230 in local-purpose taxes — an increase of about $40 over last year's local tax bill.
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