Members of the Upper Freehold Regional School District Board of Education have adopted a $43.1 million budget that will fund the operation of the district during the 2021-22 school year.
Property owners in Allentown and Upper Freehold Township will be asked to pay a $28.1 million local tax levy to support the budget.
The budget, which was adopted by the board on May 3, includes $38.1 million in operating expenses, $4.23 million in debt service and $717,882 in special revenue.
Of the $38.1 million to be appropriated as operating expenses for the upcoming academic year, $29.8 million (78.2%) will be spent on salaries and benefits. The second most costly item is transportation at $2.27 million (5.95%), according to budget information posted on the school district’s website.
Administrators said 12 staff members district-wide will be affected by reductions in the budget for 2021-22.
Students from Upper Freehold Township and Allentown attend the regional district. Residential and commercial property owners in both communities will share the cost of the $28.1 million tax levy. Upper Freehold taxpayers will pay 87.46% of the tax levy ($24.58 million) and Allentown taxpayers will pay 12.54% of the tax levy ($3.52 million).
Students from Millstone Township attend Allentown High School through a send-receive relationship between Upper Freehold Regional and the Millstone Township K-8 School District. Millstone Township pays tuition for the students it sends to Allentown High School.
In 2020-21, the school tax rate in Upper Freehold was about $1.84 per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home in the township was assessed at $488,300. The owner of that home paid about $8,984 in school taxes.
In 2021-22, the school tax rate in Upper Freehold is projected to be about $1.86 per $100 of assessed valuation. On a home that is still assessed at $488,300, the owner will pay about $9,082 in school taxes.
In 2020-21, the school tax rate in Allentown was about $1.80 per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home in the borough was assessed at $290,842. The owner of that home paid about $5,234 in school taxes.
In 2021-22, the school tax rate in Allentown is projected to be about $1.83 per $100 of assessed valuation. On a home that is still assessed at $290,842, the owner will pay about $5,321 in school taxes.
School taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes municipal taxes and Monmouth County taxes.
The amount of taxes a property owner pays is determined by the assessed value of the individual’s home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.
Upper Freehold Regional’s 2020-21 budget totaled $43.7 million and was supported by a tax levy of $27.5 million. From 2020-21 to 2021-22, appropriations are down $600,000 and the tax levy has increased by $600,000.
For the 2020-21 school year, Upper Freehold Regional’s budget was supported by the receipt of $5.25 million in state aid.
For the 2021-22 school year, Upper Freehold Regional’s budget is expected to be supported by the receipt of $4.76 million in state aid, a decrease of $492,930.
Upper Freehold Regional’s state aid has decreased each year since the enactment of state legislation known as S-2 in 2018.
“We are happy the process of forming our budget has moved to the next stage,” Superintendent of Schools Mark Guterl said. “We continue to find the budget a real challenge because of the funds being cut to our school district due to the S-2 funding formula. This is something that year in and year out, continues to hurt us in the budget process.
“What never changes is our passion and motivation to do whatever we can to support our kids and that continues to be our focus when developing a budget. Hopefully in the near future, the S-2 funding formula will be revisited by the Legislature, so that true equity in school funding will be achieved,” the superintendent said.