TOMS RIVER – The Toms River Regional Schools’ budget will increase, and taxes for most of the constituent towns will increase for the 2017-2018 school year.
The total budget will be $240,650,070, an increase of 2.5 percent.
The amount to be raised in taxes will be $157,529,467. Last year, it was $150,609,061. There was an increase of $6,920,406.
Since Toms River is a regional district, each town has a different tax rate:
Toms River: The tax rate would increase by 3.95 cents to $1.1233 per $100 of assessed valuation. This represents an increase of 3.6 percent. On a house valued at $267,501, the taxes would go up by $105.65, from $2,899.21 to $3004.86.
South Toms River: The tax rate would increase by .93 cents to 95.78 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. This represents an increase of 1 percent. On a house valued at $165,106, the taxes would go up by $15.32, from $1,566.14 to $1,581.46.
Beachwood: The tax rate would decrease by .67 cents to $1.0266 per $100 of assessed valuation. This represents a decrease of .7 percent. On a house valued at $203,300, the taxes would go down by $13.66, from $2,100.69 to $2,087.03.
Pine Beach: The tax rate would increase by 1.74 cents to $1.0504 per $100 of assessed valuation. This is an increase of 1.7 percent. On a house valued at $267,995, the taxes would go up by $46.73, from $2,768.18 to $2,814.91.
In the budget, there are 17 positions being eliminated. The positions include eight teachers, one from administration, two secretarial, three from the facilities department, one from the technology department, and two security guards. Superintendent David Healy said that this is in addition to 15 positions that were lost last year.
“Most, if not all” of the cuts will be from attrition, Healy said.
One of the issues in crafting the budget, school officials said, was that state aid stayed at $68,342,239. They compared it to 2009-2010’s aid, which was $3.6 million more. Several years of lower funding has added up.
During the public hearing of the budget on April 26, there were just a few residents left in the meeting by the time the budget was discussed. One of the people who spoke was Dennis Galante, a frequent commentator. He said that the school district’s increase just compounds increases from other sources. He blamed part of the increase on a recent teacher contract negotiation which provided 3 percent raises.
He also criticized the district in making an increase when the Township Council had none.
Some council members had been publicly critical of the schools’ pending tax increase.
Board President Ben Giovine said that the board of education has not criticized the town’s budget in the past. In previous years, the township has had tax increases that have been higher than the school board.
“I don’t see you cutting in spending. I don’t see you cutting enough,” Galante said.
Beachwood board of education representative Daniel Leonard said that residents need to reach out to state officials and urge them to provide relief to the local districts. “It’s an election year for a lot of people and we need to let people know we need help,” he said.
He also told Galante that board members have disagreements, and that he will be questioning some things in the budget that appear frivolous.