Board approves $74.3M budget

Increase of $127.21 for the average homeowner

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  • Photo by Patricia Keller Busienss administrator Barbara Francisco presented the 2014-2015 budget to the public Tuesday night. There were no comments from the public.



By the Numbers
2014-2015 School Budget
General Fund $72,416,277
Special Revenue $ 1,342,535
Debt Service $ 538,283
Total Budget $74,297,095

Tax Levy to support the 2014-2015 budget
General Fund $53,042,837
Debt Service $ 497,390
Total $53,540,227

Costs
Average Assessed Home $247,000.00
School Taxes $ 4,780.19
Annual increase for the homeowner with an average assessed home - $127.21

The West Milford Board of Education approved the 2014-2015 school budget Tuesday night, a $74,297,095 budget that keeps within the 2 percent state cap.

No vote required by public
The budget presentation by Business Administrator Barbara Francisco outlined the budget as it was first proposed on March 18.

The tax levy portion of the budget calls for $53,540,227 to support the General Fund and Debt Service, resulting in an annual cost increase for the average homeowner of $127.21. The tax levy amount is slightly below the 2 percent cap on annual school tax levy increases that is allowed by the state for school districts that chose to move their school board elections to November. The West Milford Board of Education voted in October 2012 to move school board elections to November beginning in 2013. As per the changes, annual increases in the tax levy that are kept at or below the 2 percent state cap do not require a separate public vote for approval.

Where’s the money going?
The budget highlights include the addition of an elementary mathematics coach, continued professional development programs, new textbooks with e-licenses, replacement of lab computers in two elementary schools, PARCC Readiness, e-portfolios for high school students, band uniforms, implementation of an interscholastic boys and girls volleyball program, five replacement buses, two replacement maintenance trucks, and capital projects including a boiler and auditorium roof replacement at the high school, and skylight removal and roof replacement at Marshall Hill Elementary School.

Francisco said boiler replacements are also needed at Paradise Knoll and Westbrook elementary schools. The boiler replacements for the high school and Westbrook School were approved under a separate line item at the April 29 meeting using grant funds to offset costs, but Francisco said proof of money in Capital Reserve needs to be shown first before the Paradise Knoll boiler replacement can be completed.

The 2014-2015 Budget includes the withdrawal of $850,000 from Capital Reserve for local share and other capital projects, and $150,000 from Maintenance Reserve for budgeted required maintenance.

Concerns raised
In light of the recent announcement that the State of New Jersey is facing an $800 million current-year budget gap with the money anticipated to come from a cut or deferral of the state’s pension payments, Francisco said she had “real concerns” regarding state aid, particularly the $750,000 in extraordinary aid from the state that is included in the current budget. She said she has not yet received the reimbursement application from the state, but was told it will come in May. Francisco said the state budget issues will most likely affect state school funding for next year’s 2015-2016 school budget planning.

Board Vice President Wayne Gottlieb also voiced concerns about what is going on in Trenton. He recommended that the board review the first five items in the General Fund, which he said are the “real thing” the board controls in the budget, and pull back as much as possible; although he commented that amounts are already less than last year. He said that after hearing the serious tone of lawmakers speaking at a recent Passaic County School Board Association meeting, they were giving no encouragement for extra money for schools. “The funding is not expected to be there” he said. Gottlieb made a motion to revisit the budget before approval, but the motion was not seconded.

The Board voted to approve the budget, with seven of the nine trustees voting yes. Trustee Debbie O’Brien voted “yes, with reservations.” Gottlieb voted against it, and Trustee Matt Conlon abstained.

The 2014-2015 West Milford school budget is available to view on the district’s Web site, www.wmtps.org.

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