HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — For the second consecutive year, Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District officials have refused to release the proposed school tax rates before the district Board of Education meets to vote on the budget.

“It’s fair to the board and fair to the public to discuss those (tax rates) there, instead of in the newspaper,” Business Administrator Charles Muller said Friday.

The district has proposed spending $71.5 million, up almost 4 percent from the current budget, Muller said.

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State aid increases in the budget by about 2 percent, to $31.2 million. The total amount to be raised by taxes would increase by about 7 percent, to $29.3 million, he said.

Muller did not say what the effect will be on Egg Harbor City, Port Republic and Washington, Hamilton, Mullica and Galloway townships, who send 3,694 students to the district’s three high schools. Per-pupil costs are expected to rise slightly, to $14,476, according to the advertised budget.

The amount each sending town’s property owners pay to regional school districts is based on a state formula that considers enrollment and property values, among other things, and is recalculated annually.

The biggest increase in the budget is health insurance for the district’s 534 employees, which Muller said would increase 13 percent, to $11.7 million. More students are requiring out-of-district placement, raising that cost by 13 percent to $7.7 million.

The district is one the state has mandated to make higher debt repayments. The district will have to pay an additional $215,398 in the budget to debt repayment on the 21/2-year-old Cedar Creek High School in Egg Harbor City.

Overall, Muller said, the budget would not cut or reduce programs.

“It’s good. It maintains all of our programs. It maintains all of our staff.” Muller said of the budget. “We’re able to maintain all of our programs for our district, and increase the little areas we can, which is really, really good.”

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