CAPE MAY POINT — Already miniscule school taxes here will go even lower this year because there are no students.
The school district has no schools but sends its few students each year on a tuition basis to Cape May Elementary School for the grammar school grades and to the Lower Cape May Regional’s junior high and high schools. Last year the district budgeted for four students at a cost of $95,240, but they ended up moving out of town.
Business Administrator Rose Millar said this year there are no students, though the district does pay transportation costs for one Catholic school student. Millar said the district is anticipating one student will move into town before next September and the 2013-14 spending plan has been set at $65,240 just to be safe.
“It’s 100 percent tuition driven and we don’t have a crystal ball. Who would have known that everybody would have moved out this year,” Millar said.
Even with no school building to maintain, the district does have administrative costs and a Board of Education. Tuition costs are based on projections each year and adjustments are made the following year. Any money that is not used simply goes into surplus.
“We need to keep some fund balance,” Millar said.
The tax rate is expected to drop from about 0.9 cents for each $100 of assessed value to 0.8 cents. This means the tax for each $100,000 of assessed value would drop from $9 to $8.
The average assessment in a borough with $514 million in tax ratables is $793,000. The average assessment produces a school tax bill of $63.44, down from $71.37 last year.
Taxpayers would pay significantly higher costs if the borough had joined the Lower Cape May Regional School District years ago when it was formed by Lower Township, Cape May and West Cape May. Each of those three towns pays based on a state formula weighted heavily on ratables.
Cape May Point built its own schoolhouse in the 1870s and used the first floor for grades one through four and the second floor for grades five through eight, according to the book “Cape May Point, The Illustrated History-1875 to the Present” by Joe Jordan. In 1931 the school closed and students were sent to the Consolidated School in Lower Township. The schoolhouse is now a private residence on Cambridge Avenue.
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