LOWER TOWNSHIP — The elementary school district’s $27.7 million preliminary budget would increase the tax rate by about 1.5 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation.
The tax rate last year was 36.9 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation, or $369 for a $100,000 home. The new budget would add
$15 for each $100,000 of assessed value, Superintendent George Drozdowski said. Most properties in the township are assessed at more than twice that amount.
“It comes to about $3 a month on the average home,” Drozdowski said.
The budget is within the 2 percent state-mandated cap on tax increases.
“The caps that were imposed were very good for the taxpayer. However, the 2 percent does not cover your increases that are not capped, such as health benefits, insurance, utilities and the cost of products,” Drozdowski said Friday.
The budget totals $27,774,678, which is up $198,698, or 0.72 percent, from last year. The more important figure for taxpayers is how much will be raised in taxes to support the budget. Drozdowski said the tax levy is rising $555,031 to $15,806,595, or about 3.6 percent.
The next largest item supporting the budget for the pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade district is state aid.
The district also envisions some new capital programs for the 2014-15 school year. The administration office, an old house on Seashore Road, is going to be sold and new offices will be constructed in empty classrooms at the Carl T. Mitnick School. Drozdowski said the project will benefit taxpayers, as the work is expected to cost less than the sale of the house. He noted the house, now tax-exempt, would go back on the tax rolls.
The four empty classrooms were used by the federal Head Start program but were vacated, leaving an unpaid $46,000 bill. Drozdowski still hopes to recoup that money. Drozdowski said a new administration building would cost more than $700,000 and rehabbing the existing one was estimated to cost $380,000.
“We’re doing a lot of the work internally with the maintenance department. It’s a win-win for taxpayers to remodel the current space,” Drozdowski said.
New academic programs for the next school year include math and writing programs.
“Our language arts testing was not where we wanted it to be. We found the writing needed improvement,” Drozdowski said.
Money is also going to new computer equipment and the school is looking at starting a pre-engineering program at the Sandman Consolidated School.
The budget includes no layoffs and benefits from a new solar panel system that cut electric bills by about $125,000 per year. But health insurance costs are rising by more than 7 percent.
The public hearing on the budget is set for 7 p.m. April 29 at the Carl T. Mitnick School.
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