Millstone school budget public hearing scheduled for April 29

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MILLSTONE – The owner of a home assessed at the Millstone Township average of $527,345 will pay about $221 more in school taxes in 2019-20 as detailed in the Millstone Township K-8 School District’s budget for the upcoming school year.

A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. on April 29 in the Millstone Township Middle School library. Residents may comment on and ask questions about the budget that evening. The Board of Education is expected to adopt the budget following the public hearing.

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During an April 8 board meeting, district administrators confirmed the projected $221 tax increase for the owner of a home assessed at the township average and said that in the face of declining state aid, residents can expect to see a similar tax increase each year through 2025.

In six years, school taxes could rise by about $1,200, according to district administrators.

The school district received $5.2 million in state aid in 2017. Under the terms of legislation known as S-2 that was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018, the district’s state aid is now being reduced on an annual basis and will total about $2.9 million in 2025.

For the 2019-20 school year, the district will receive $4.719 million in state aid, which is a reduction of $236,000 from 2018-19.

In the face of declining state aid and increasing operational costs, Millstone’s property owners will foot more of the costs needed to maintain staff, services and programs, according to district administrators.

In response to a question from a board member, Superintendent of Schools Christopher Huss said the “short answer” is that taxpayers are going to pay more each year.

“It is the (Murphy) administration’s goal to do that,” Huss said.

Business Administrator Bernard Biesiada explained that when the school district’s enrollment declined in recent years, its state aid was not reduced.

He said the district was “held harmless.” He said as some school districts saw an increase in enrollment, their state aid was not increased.

Biesiada said S-2 has changed that funding pattern and takes a school district’s wealth into account. He said districts with increasing enrollment will receive more state aid, while districts such as Millstone Township – which are deemed to be wealthy and have seen a decrease in enrollment – will lose state aid.

Class sizes for the 2019-20 school year are expected to range between 19 and 22 pupils, depending on grade level, Huss said. The district has an enrollment of about 1,100 pupils.

The proposed school budget for 2019-20 totals $39.58 million. Property owners will pay a local tax levy of $32.21 million to support the budget. The increase in the tax levy from 2018-19 to 2019-20 is about $721,000, according to a presentation at the April 8 meeting.

The school tax rate for 2019-20 is projected to be $1.7227 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at the township average of $527,345 will pay about $9,084 in school taxes.

Millstone Township K-8 School District taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Millstone Township municipal taxes and Monmouth County taxes.

The amount of taxes an individual pays is determined by the assessed value of his/her home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

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