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Hopewell Valley school board approves $95.2 million budget to fund district operations for 2022-23 school year

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The Hopewell Valley Regional Board of Education funded districted operations for the 2022-23 school year when the school board recently adopted a $95.2 million budget.

School board members adopted the budget at a oard of education meeting on April 25.

Board President Deborah Linthorst and board members Adam Sawicki, Andrea Driver, Anita Williams Galiano, Alexander Reznik, John Mason, Jacqueline Genovesi and voted “yes” on the measure to adopt the budget.

Board Vice President Jessica Grillo and board member William Herbert were absent for the meeting.

The school district’s appropriations slightly increased from $95 million in the 2021-22 budget to $95.2 million in the 2022-23 budget.

The 2022-23 tax levy of $83.2 million is the amount property owners are paying in school property taxes to support the district from the three municipalities in Hopewell Valley (Hopewell Township, Hopewell Borough, Pennington).

The tax levy increased from the adopted budget for 2021-22, which was $82.16 million.

In Hopewell Borough, the school tax rate increases by one cent to $1.75 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $475,000 will pay $8,312 in school taxes for 2022-23.

The 2021-22 school tax rate was $1.74 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home that was assessed at $475,000 paid $8,265 in school taxes.

In Hopewell Township, the school tax rate decreases to $1.71 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of an average home assessed at $550,000 will pay $9,405 in school taxes for 2022-23.

The tax rate in 2021-22 budget was $1.78 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home with the same assessed value paid $9,790 in school taxes.

In Pennington, the school tax rate will also be decreasing to $1.61 per $100 of assessed valuations. The owner of a home assessed at $560,000 will pay $9,016 in school taxes in 2022-23.

The tax rate decreases by one cent from the 2021-22 budget which was $1.62 per $100 of assessed valuations. The owner of a home assessed at $560,000 paid $9,072 in school taxes in 2021-22.

School taxes are one item on a property owner’s total tax bill, which also includes municipal taxes and county taxes.

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

“We have done things to control costs. We reduced staff to coincide with enrollment,” said Robert Colavita, district business administrator. “As our enrollment was declining we have been able to reduce class sections by 21%. We have also reduced administration staff over the last 12 years.”

For appropriations, the HVRSD budget includes $41.6 million on regular instruction, $16.5 million on staff benefits, $16.1 million towards special education, $7 million for operations and maintenance, $4.19 million on debts service, $5.1 million for transportation and $1.62 million on athletics/co-curricular.

“The vast majority of our dollars are spent in the general education and special education areas and those related benefits that our staff members receive,” Colavita said.

According to the budget presentation, in addition to the tax levy, the revenues side of the budget includes $6 million in state aid, which is an increase from the $4.89 million in state aid the district received for the 2021-22 school year; $4.09 million in total fund balance (savings), $926,500 in total miscellaneous revenues (revenues generated through services such as tuitions and renting out of facilities), and $882,343 from federal aid.

“Local funding of our budget is 93%; 88% from property taxes. State funding is about 6% that is driven in large part to the additional debt service we received when we went out for our last referendum,” Colavita added. “About 1% of our budget comes from federal funding. All of that federal funding is grant money and most of it is generated towards our special education population and underserved population.”

Some capital projects covered in the budget are a $1.2 million boiler project at Bear Tavern Elementary School and Timberlane Middle School; Hopewell Valley Elementary School boiler replacement project ($1.6 million) and HVAC upgrades ($1.5 million); and $850,000 for Hopewell Valley Central High School’s turf field.

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