BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Board of Education approved its 2015-2016 budget, with very minimal changes since it was introduced in March, and an increase in the tax levy by 2 percent.
But, Business Administrator Peter Starrs noted, the taxes overall have decreased because of changes in the home valuations in Bridgewater and Raritan.
The budget is set at $144,591,253, a 1.07 percent increase over the 2014-2015 budget.
In Bridgewater, for a home with an average assessment of $419,654, the school tax rate is set at 1.395, translating to $5,854,34. This is a decrease of $17.06 per $100,000 of home assessment.
In Raritan, for an average home assessment of $319,676, the school tax rate is set at 1.218, translating to $3,894.68. This is a decrease of $40.54 per $100,000 of home assessment.
The overall tax levy for the district has increased 2 percent, from $124,875,621 in the 2014-2015 budget to $127,373,133 for the upcoming year. The cap for increasing the tax levy is mandated by the state to not go over 2 percent.
“The total budget for the year is only going up by 1 percent, even though we are increasing the tax levy by 2 percent,” Starrs said. “The state aid stayed flat.”
Starrs said that has to do with decreasing funds in the district fund budget, as well as flat state aid.
Superintendent Victor Hayek said the budget takes into account enrollment and more, considering that, from the demographer’s original predictions for the district, they have actually increased by 93 students.
In terms of projects for the coming year, the only facilities project in the operating budget is $250,000 for bathrooms at Adamsville Primary and Bradley Gardens Primary schools. Hayek said they will assist in either implementing full day kindergarten or bringing other programs to those schools.
The remainder of the projects being planned for the coming year are being paid for out of capital reserve, not the taxed budget. Projects at the high school include track replacement, partial gym bleacher replacement, building 700 carpet replacement, painting of the auditorium and refinishing of the gym floor.
Paving projects are also planned for Eisenhower Intermediate, the transportation lot, BRHS student lot, Van Holten Primary, Hamilton Primary and Bradley Gardens.
The budget was approved unanimously.