GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Officials said Monday increased expenses and cuts in aid are the reasons for a slight increase in the local school tax that will raise the average property owner’s bill by $45.
Superintendent Annette Giaquinto cited increases in operating expenses, transportation, supplies and health insurance as the reasons for the $2.2 million increase in the general fund.
The $61.6 million budget adopted Monday evening by the Galloway Township School District Board of Education will raise the school tax by 2 cents, to 79 cents per $100 of assessed value. The tax levy under the 2013-14 budget is $30.2 million.
Under the budget, the owner of a property with an average residential assessment of $223,872 would pay $1,768 in school taxes, up from last year’s $1,723 average bill.
“We tried to create a budget that was responsible, but we had to take into account the needs of facilities we have,” said Business Administrator Timothy Kelley.
Giaquinto echoed Kelley’s sentiments, saying the budget takes into account both the children of Galloway and taxpayers.
“There was $1.4 million worth of reductions made, even in bringing this budget forth. This is not a budget full of wish-list items,” Giaquinto said.
The budget includes a general fund for this school year of $58,481,475, which is an increase from last year’s $56,287,895. The budget also includes $1.8 million in the debt service fund and $1.19 million in the special-revenue fund.
Consistent reductions in state aid have not helped the district’s financial situation since 2008. In fiscal year, 2008-09, state aid in the district was nearly $25.2 million but this fiscal year’s state aid is down to less than $24.3 million. The district is averaging cuts to their state aid of about $184,000 per year since 2008-09, Kelley said.
Surplus funds in the general budget have also decreased by $950,352 to nearly $2.8 million.
During the public budget hearing Monday evening, Giaquinto said the district had to take a look at what efficiencies could be gained and that was realized through a reduction of force through positions that were dissolved and not returned over the last several years. The positions included five counselors, four secretaries and one principal, Giaquinto said.
Repairs to a township school’s roof and replacement of a parking lot will come later this summer after the district saved money in its capital reserve fund, following previous failed referendum votes.
The construction projects will be funded completely through the capital reserve, and the funding is on hand through money saved by the district, said Business Administrator Timothy E. Kelley, and taxes will not be raised to pay for the projects.
The adopted budget includes funding in the district’s capital reserve fund to replace the roof at the Arthur Rann Elementary School scheduled for this coming summer and a project to replace the parking lot at the school. The two projects combined are expected to cost about $1.8 million.
When the referendums were voted down, the district began saving and in June deposited $700,000 into the capital reserve to go toward the projects, officials said.
Two other roof replacements will soon need to be completed at the Smithville and Roland Rogers schools, Kelley said.
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