BELMAR, NJ — Property owners will see their school taxes bump up 2 percent — that’s nearly $1.6 cents on every $100 of assessed home value — under the 2017-2018 budget approved this week by the Board of Education.
The reason: Increases in contractual services in two categories — salaries and benefits, and tuition and transportation — which represent 90 percent of school district expenses, according to Business Administrator/Board Secretary Loretta Hill.
“The only area the board has control over is in operational and educational expenses (at Belmar Elementary School), and that fluctuates between 8 and 10 percent each year,” Hill said at during her presentation on Thursday of the spending plan, which will be submitted to the Monmouth County Superintendent of Schools for final review and approval.
Since Belmar does not have a high school, the school district spends more than $2 million in tuition and transportation annually to high schools in its sending district, including the Monmouth County Vocational School District. Another $1.4 million is paid to out-of-district schools for tuition and transportation for special education students.
A snapshot of the total $13.2 million school budget shows that $8.4 million will be raised through taxation. That translates into an annual increase of $63, or $5.22 per month, for the owner of a home assessed at $400,000.
Additionally, some $375,000 in debt service will be paid through the tax levy. Belmar is in the final year of a loan from a 2005 bond referendum.
The district will receive some $38,400 more in state aid in the 2017-2018 school year — a figure that is based on the previous year’s pre-kindergarten enrollment.
In terms of enrollment, the district expects to see no significant increase in the upcoming school year. With a total of 697 students from primarily Belmar and Lake Como, there will be 541 pupils at Belmar Elementary School, 135 going to a high school in the sending district, 12 attending vocational school and eight requiring special needs placement.
Tuition rates for the 2017-2018 have been set per student as follows: kindergarten/preschool, $14,127; grades 1 to 5, $14,991; grades 6 to 8, $13,982; learning disabled (self-contained), $18,086; and preschool disabled (self-contained), $24,454. These rates are noteworthy to Lake Como residents since they pay the bulk of this tuition — about nearly $2 million annually, which must be approved by that borough’s Board of Education through its budget.