HomeExaminerExaminer NewsUpper Freehold Regional school board introduces budget

Upper Freehold Regional school board introduces budget

The Upper Freehold Regional School District Board of Education has introduced a $43.6 million budget that will fund the operation of the district during the 2022-23 school year.

Residential and commercial property owners in Allentown and Upper Freehold Township will be asked to pay a $28.6 million local tax levy to support the budget.

Following a discussion among district administrators and board members, the budget was introduced on March 21.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 2. The budget, which may be revised until that date, may be adopted by the board following the public hearing.

The $43.6 million budget includes $38.4 million in operating expenses, $4.24 million to be paid as debt service and $953,830 in special revenue.

Of the $38.4 million in operating expenses for the upcoming academic year, $11.6 million (29.6%) will be spent on regular program instruction, which includes salaries and supplies. The second most costly item is employee benefits at $7.25 million (18.9%), according to budget information posted on the school district’s website.

Upper Freehold Regional consists of three schools: the Newell Elementary School, the Stone Bridge Middle School and Allentown High School. The schools are attended by students who reside in Upper Freehold Township and in Allentown.

Residential and commercial property owners will share the cost of the $28.6 million tax levy for 2022-23. Upper Freehold property owners will pay 87% of the tax levy and Allentown property owners will pay 12% of the tax levy.

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 2021-22, the school tax rate in Upper Freehold was about $1.86 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $547,100 paid about $10,176 in school taxes.

In 2022-23, the school tax rate in Upper Freehold is projected to remain at about $1.86 per $100 of assessed valuation. On a home that is still assessed at $547,100, the township average, the owner will continue pay about $10,176 in school taxes (1.86 x 5,471).

In 2021-22, the school tax rate in Allentown was about $1.83 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $293,116 paid about $5,364 in school taxes.

In 2022-23, the school tax rate in Allentown is projected to be about $1.82 per $100 of assessed valuation. On a home that is still assessed at $293,116, the borough average, the owner will pay about $5,334 in school taxes (1.82 x 2,931).

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 2021-22 budget totaled $43.1 million and was supported by a tax levy of $28.1 million.

The total budget is increasing by $500,000 from 2021-22 to 2022-23 and the tax levy is also increasing by about $500,000 from 2021-22 to 2022-23.

For the 2021-22 school year, Upper Freehold Regional’s budget was supported by the receipt of $4.75 million in state aid.

For the 2022-23 school year, Upper Freehold Regional’s budget is expected to be supported by the receipt of $4.33 million in state aid, a decrease of $420,000.

Upper Freehold Regional’s state aid has decreased each year since the enactment of state legislation known as S-2 in 2018.

“The Upper Freehold Regional School District budget is always a challenge thanks to the S-2 funding formula,” Superintendent of Schools Mark Guterl said. “This year’s loss in state aid was balanced by a number of retirements, which will provide some savings for the district when we hire their replacements.

“Unfortunately, the human capital we lose from those retirements is hard to take. We love our teachers and losing veteran educators who provide so much to the district is not easy at all.

“We do see a light at the end of the S-2 tunnel, which is two years away. Fortunately, the Upper Freehold Regional School District continues to provide an excellent experience and education for our kids. Our passion to do whatever it takes to help our kids continues to motivate us as we move forward,” Guterl said.

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