MARLBORO – A divided Marlboro K-8 School District Board of Education has introduced a tentative budget for 2018-19 that totals $92.3 million and will be supported by a tax levy of $76.4 million to be paid by Marlboro’s residential and commercial property owners.
If the budget is adopted as introduced, the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $493,926 will pay about $87 more in K-8 school taxes for 2018-19 than in 2017-18.
The board’s 2017-18 budget totaled $91.2 million and was supported by a tax levy of $74.9 million. The new budget increases appropriations by $1.1 million and the tax levy by $1.5 million, according to information provided by the board.
The budget was introduced during a meeting on March 27 in a 5-4 vote. A public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for April 24.
On a motion to introduce the budget, board President Robyn Wolfe, Vice President Randy Heller and board members Anisha Gizersky, Stephen Shifrinson and Susan Shrem voted yes.
Board members Robert Daniel, Dara Enny, Vlad Goldfarb and Ellen Xu voted no.
“My goal as a member of the board is to slow the rate of tax increases for Marlboro residents and to be consistent in doing so,” Daniel said. “I voted against this budget because the proposal was to go up 2 percent and to me this goes against ‘slowing the rate of tax increases.’ ”
“I wanted to echo the statement made by Mr. Daniel,” Goldfarb said. “This being my first year on the board, I wanted to do everything I could to ensure a slower and steadier rate of increase in the yearly budget. My biggest concern is that going to 2 percent in next year’s budget puts us in a difficult position when putting together future budgets.
“Once we go to 2 percent, which is the highest we can go by state law, we create a bigger hole in the budget by going down to say 1.5 percent the following year. To me, going to 2 percent for next year’s budget makes it very difficult for us to propose a budget that does not include a 2 percent increase for the foreseeable future.
“While I understand the need to have a consistent increase over time, in order to cover the cost of health benefits, going to 1.5 percent or even slightly higher would have let us cover the cost of these benefits while still having more control over the budget in future years,” Goldfarb said.
Business Administrator Cindy Barr-Rague said the tax levy has increased due to contracted increases in salaries and benefits.
Officials said Marlboro will receive $11.69 million in state aid in 2018-19, which is a $272,000 increase from 2017-18. The 2018-19 budget will use $315,622 from surplus funds (savings).
The K-8 school tax rate is projected to increase from $1.044 per $100 of assessed valuation in 2017-18 to $1.062 per $100 in 2018-19, according to Barr-Rague. The average home assessment has decreased from $494,179 in 2017 to $493,926 in 2018.
The budget may be amended until the public hearing is conducted. If the budget is adopted as introduced, an individual who owned the “average” home in 2017-18 and paid $5,158 in K-8 school taxes would pay $5,245 in the “average” home, an increase of $87, for 2018-19.
The owner of a home that was assessed at $400,000 in 2017 paid $4,176 in K-8 school taxes. If that individual’s home is still assessed at $400,000 in 2018, the taxes will be $4,248.
The owner of a home that was assessed at $600,000 in 2017 paid $6,264 in K-8 school taxes. If that individual’s home is still assessed at $600,000 in 2018, the taxes will be $6,372.
School taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Monmouth County taxes, Marlboro municipal taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes, a fire district tax and other assessments.
Barr-Rague said administrators are anticipating an enrollment of 4,831 pupils in 2018-19. The current enrollment in the district is 4,944 pupils.