OPINION: Watch School Taxes, And State Aid

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Lacey taxpayers need to take an interest in what goes on in Trenton because of its direct effect on our local school budget. A serious meeting with the Governor is in order. If you think the school budget is tight now, just wait for the rest of Phil Murphy’s anticipated reductions in State School Aid.

Now here’s the math of it all….. The 2018-2019 Lacey School budget started out in May at $76.6 million. Then Gov. Phil asked for $583K to be returned – leaving the District with $76.1. Since the health benefit costs did not rise the full amount budgeted, the district was able to chop the $583K directly out of the Employee Benefit line item leaving the remainder of the current budget intact. However, that Band-Aid can not be re-used again when next year’s cuts come down from Uncle Phil’s office.

Approximately $30 million dollars is for salaries – leaving $46 million.

Next, the line item for benefits is $18 million, now the budget is left with approximately $26 million dollars.

There is a line item called unallocated employee benefits – this is the money set aside for all unused sick and vacation pay – which shows on page 99 of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report – and that number is $17.8 million. Subtract this figure and the Lacey School District is now left operating seven buildings for 4,100 students with just about $8 million dollars – $3.7 million of which is earmarked for debt (a four letter word that is killing the District). Debt for a solar project that the taxpayers, staff and the students are suffering over for another 10 years. The project has never paid for itself as the referendum promised and is constantly being supplemented with tax funds never meant for the bond.

I would be happy to sit down with anyone that wants to dive deep into the school budget.

Please remember your civic duty and vote on Tuesday Nov. 6th. Let me be your taxpayer voice on the School Board.

 

Regina Discenza
Former Member, Lacey Board of Education, 2015-2017

 

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