Millstone Township school board introduces $40M budget for 2021-22


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MILLSTONE – The Millstone Township K-8 School District Board of Education has introduced a $40.1 million budget that will fund the operation of the district during the 2021-22 school year.

Following a discussion among district administrators and board members, the budget was introduced on March 8. A public hearing is scheduled for April 26. The budget, which may be revised until that time, may be adopted by the board following the public hearing.

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The $40.1 million budget will be supported by a tax levy of $33.1 million to be paid by Millstone Township’s residential and commercial property owners. Other revenue includes $1.53 million from the district’s surplus fund (savings).

For the 2020-21 school year, the $39.6 million budget that was adopted by the board was supported by a local tax levy of $32.7 million and the receipt of $4 million in state aid.

For the 2021-22 school year, Millstone’s state aid will be reduced by $528,714 to $3.53 million.

The school district’s state aid has decreased each year since the enactment of state legislation known as S-2 in 2018. Millstone is projected to lose a total of $2.1 million in state aid under S-2 through 2024-25, according to district administrators.

After the budget was introduced, Superintendent of Schools Christopher Huss said, “While preparing the budget is always a very involved process, this year was once again especially challenging.

“For the fourth year in a row, we suffered a significant loss of state aid while expenses such as building operations, special education services, health care coverage and out-of-district tuition continue to rise.

“The S-2 funding formula appears to ignore these factors, among many others, while over-relying on enrollment data, local tax increases and other undisclosed multipliers,” Huss said.

“The formula being implemented gives the impression that Millstone residents have not been paying their ‘local fair share’ in taxes. That is the exact term used in the funding formula which is a primary reason why our state aid has been reduced by nearly $1 million in three years.
“Essentially, the legislators are using these reductions to send a message that districts such as ours should balance their budget by raising local property taxes to the maximum rates allowed by law.
“If the S-2 funding formula continues to be implemented as it is currently (being implemented), and these cuts persist through 2025 as projected, difficult decisions will have to be made.
“Educational programs, key resources and all non-essential support services will be compromised, class sizes will increase, programs will be decimated and the educational experience we have become accustomed to in Millstone may drastically change,” the superintendent said.
“I applaud our business administrator, Bernie Biesiada, and the nine members of our Board of Education for working diligently to create and approve a preliminary budget that is as fiscally responsible as possible while avoiding catastrophic impacts to the schools and students.
“Despite the state’s cuts, we remain committed to doing what is best for the students and steadfast in our mission to stay at the forefront of education.
“We are proud of our cutting-edge STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) electives, a robust curriculum and progressive character education programs, and we persist in being committed to offering experiences in the arts and extensive extracurricular activities.
“All of these are supported by the (proposed 2021-22) budget and we are hopeful we can maintain them for the foreseeable future,” Huss said.

The school district’s 2020-21 budget had a school tax rate of $1.744 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $500,000 paid about $8,720 in school taxes.

For 2021-22, administrators said the school tax rate will increase to $1.761 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $500,000 will pay about $8,805 in school taxes.

School taxes are one component of a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Monmouth County taxes, Millstone Township municipal taxes and other assessments.

An individual pays more or less in taxes depending on the assessed value of his home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

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