By Peter Elacqua
HOWELL – Members of the Howell K-8 School District Board of Education have voted 8-0 to adopt a $121.34 million budget for the 2017-18 school year. The owner of a home assessed at the township average will pay $98 more in school taxes during the next year.
Howell’s residential and commercial property owners will pay $78.1 million in local taxes (64.5 percent of the total budget) to support the operation of the school district. State aid totals $33.12 million, according to district administrators.
Administrators said the budget meets state guidelines in terms of the tax levy and therefore the spending plan is not subject to a vote by members of the public.
A public hearing on the budget was held on May 3 at Howell Middle School North.
Although the K-8 school tax rate will drop from $1.184 to $1.162 per $100 of assessed valuation for 2017-18, that decrease does not mean every Howell homeowner will pay less in school taxes. Some homes have been reassessed and the change in the assessment may lead to a higher tax bill.
The school district will collect $1.48 million more in local taxes in 2017-18 than it did in 2016-17.
In 2016-17 the budget totaled $117.72 million and was supported by the collection of $76.62 million in local taxes. The average home was assessed at $318,000 and the owner of that home paid $3,765 in K-8 school taxes.
In 2017-18, the average home is assessed at $332,528 and the owner of that home will pay $3,863 in K-8 school taxes, an increase of $98, according to budget documents.
If a resident’s home was assessed at $250,000 in 2016 and is still assessed at $250,000 in 2017, his K-8 school tax will decrease by $55 from $2,960 to $2,905.
If a resident’s home was assessed at $400,000 in 2016 and is still assessed at $400,000 in 2017, his K-8 school tax will decrease by $88 from $4,736 to $4,648.
Business Administrator Ron Sanasac said there will not be any staff changes and he said the projected enrollment for 2017-18 is 5,923 children.
During the public hearing, resident Barbara Dixel asked the board to reduce the amount of the local tax levy that is collected to support the district.
“We have expressed our concerns with school finances and that we need to do something about getting an increase in state funding to take the burden off property taxes,” board member Albert Miller said.
“We have an active advocacy group and we will continue increasing our reach to increase state funding. I encourage you to contact our assemblymen and senator about increasing our state funding because it would help greatly with the property taxes,” Miller said.
One resident complimented the board for everything that is offered to students and said, “While I would like to see relief on my taxes, I want to thank you for all you do for the children of this community.”
Board President Timothy O’Brien, Vice President Mark Bonjavanni and board members Jeanne DePompo, Laurence Gurman, MaryRose Malley, Cristy Mangano, James Moretti and Miller voted to adopt the budget. Board member Denise Lowe was absent.
In addition to K-8 school taxes, a property owner in Howell also pays municipal taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes, Monmouth County taxes, a fire district tax and other assessments.