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Allentown property owners will get break on school tax levy percentage

ALLENTOWN – The percentage of the Upper Freehold Regional School District tax levy that property owners in Allentown pay is scheduled to decrease in 2020.

Allentown and Upper Freehold Township comprise the UFRSD and share the costs of operating the Newell Elementary School, the Stone Bridge Middle School and Allentown High School.

Earlier this year, the Board of Education adopted a $43.23 million budget for the 2019-20 school year. The budget is supported by a $27.28 million tax levy. Upper Freehold property owners are paying $23.69 million of the tax levy (86.83%) and Allentown property owners are paying $3.59 million of the tax levy (13.17%).

On Oct. 8, Allentown Borough Council members announced that in 2020 the borough’s apportionment of the school district’s tax levy will decrease to 12.58% and Upper Freehold’s apportionment of the tax levy will increase to 87.42%.

The school board will adopt a budget for the 2020-21 school year next spring, at which time the total tax levy will be determined, as well as the amount to be paid by property owners in Allentown and in Upper Freehold Township.

For historical perspective, Allentown property owners paid a school tax levy of $3.59 million in 2016-17; $3.63 million in 2017-18; $3.64 million in 2018-19; and $3.59 million for 2019-20.

For historical perspective, Upper Freehold property owners paid a school tax levy of $21.6 million in 2016-17; $22.09 million in 2017-18; $22.96 million in 2018-19; and $23.69 million in 2019-20.

According to information provided by Allentown officials, Allentown’s equalized value is $196.4 million and Upper Freehold’s equalized value is $1.37 billion.

The percentage of the school district tax levy Allentown property owners pay has been a concern to residents and officials in recent years. Several years ago Allentown’s share of the tax levy increased unexpectedly and property owners were on the hook for a significant increase in their school taxes.

In the wake of that increase, Allentown officials filed legal action against the director of the state Division of Taxation and secured a positive outcome that resulted in a lowering of the borough’s school district tax levy percentage.

Three years ago, Allentown’s share of the Upper Freehold Regional tax levy was 14.31% and that figure has since dropped to 12.58% for 2020.

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