Monroe introduces flat tax rate for 2022 municipal budget; school budget includes 19 new instructional/support staff


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MONROE – The 2022 Monroe calendar year municipal budget takes on a “theme of affordability and property tax relief.”

That is what Mayor Stephen Dalina said as he presented the proposed $66.99 million budget at a Township Council meeting on May 2.

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“Between the impacts of COVID-19, and some economic uncertainty, many residents have tightened their belts, and my job as mayor is to do the same to keep our community affordable,” he said, adding he has “painstakingly evaluated our balance sheet, our spending, our debt, and made the adjustments necessary to develop a responsible budget proposal that provides services but keeps municipal taxes flat.”

The municipal tax rate remains the same as last year at $0.489 per $100 of assessed valuation. The average homeowner will continue to pay $1,623 in 2022 for the average home in Monroe assessed at $331,952.

A higher assessed value of an individual’s home and/or property will yield a higher municipal property tax payment.

Monroe officials will collect $40.36 million in taxes from Monroe’s residential and commercial property tax owners in 2022 to help fund the municipal budget.

The budget that was adopted in 2021 totaled $65.36 million and included a $39.72 million tax levy. From 2021 to 2022, the total budget is up $1.63 million, and the total amount to be collected from taxpayers is up $643,160.

Monroe will receive $2.26 million in state aid for 2022.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s total tax bill, which also includes Monroe school taxes, Middlesex County taxes, a library tax and a fire district tax.

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

Dalina noted among the factors that led to a flat tax rate include a $13 million decrease in the township’s statutory debt over the past few years, which resulted in a $600,000 decline in the township’s debt service and a strong AA+ bond rating allowed the township to refinance existing debt to save several million dollars.

In addition, the township aggressively pursued federal CARES (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funding and American Recovery Act funding; Monroe expanded shared services efforts; and commercial ratables are being added to stabilize residential municipal taxes for future years.

A public hearing for the 2022 Monroe Township Municipal Budget is scheduled at a Township Council meeting on June 1.

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2022-23 Monroe Township School Budget

The Monroe Board of Education (BOE) adopted its $146.77 million budget at a meeting on April 25 to fund the operation of the school district from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.

The total budget for the 2022-23 school year is an increase of $4.18 million from the 2021-22 school year budget of $142.59 million.

Residents with homes assessed at the municipality’s average $331,952 value can expect a $9.08 decrease in their school taxes.

The budget is supported by the collection of a $112.43 million tax levy, up $2.2 million from the 2021-22 budget year, from the township’s residential and commercial property owners.

For 2022-23, the school district tax rate is decreasing by approximately a quarter – 0.27 cents – per $100 of assessed valuation.

The amount of school taxes an individual pays is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by the school district.

State aid accounts for 7% of the district’s funding, while federal aid comprises just 1%. Local taxes provide the vast majority of Monroe Township School District’s financial resources at 83%, which is down from being as high as 88% on the local tax levy.

State aid increased 22% to the tune of $1,727,807, from $7.97 million in 2021-22 to $9.74 million this year.

State aid is just one factor influencing the tax rate. Fund balances, ratables and the effect of enrollment on appropriations are also contributing elements.

Ratables in the township have increased $143.75 million, or 1.77%, for the 2022-23 school year. Last year, the township saw an increase of $244 million, or 3.11%, in ratable growth.

Spending in the budget is driven by student enrollment. As of Oct. 15, 2021, the district has 6,853 students with a projection of 6,962 students, or an increase of 109 students, for the 2022-23 school year, School Business Administrator Michael Gorski has said.

The biggest portion of the budget – 65-75% – is for classroom instruction and special education, followed by transportation, 25%, and health benefits, 21.79%.

The budget includes an addition of 19 instructional and support staff totaling $900,371. Inclusive of class resources and resource room teachers, the addition includes self-contained teachers, paraprofessionals; bus drivers; a nurse; a Spanish teacher and a custodian, according to Assistant Schools Superintendent Adam Layman

The budget includes maintaining technology totaling $2.17 million; revising textbooks totaling $368,684; and the purchase of six 54 passenger buses with cameras for $690,000, and two 20 passenger vans with cameras for $130,000.

The budget also maintains a variety of support systems to aid students who may be struggling coming out of the pandemic; the standard support system process for special education; it maintains co-curricular and academic activities; and maintains focus on supporting social, emotional learning for students.

Capital improvements in the budget include replacing heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment at the Performing Arts Center at Monroe Township Middle School totaling $1.68 million; interior renovation of a home economics lab to create special needs classrooms totaling $150,000 at the middle school; and interior renovation of a graphic arts room to create two general education classrooms totaling $50,000 at Monroe Township High School.

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