ROXBURY, NJ – The owners of a $300,000 house in Roxbury will pay about $5,124 in school taxes, about $138 more than they currently pay, under a budget approved Monday by the township school board.

Meeting remotely for the second time due to COVID-19 restrictions, the board adopted a nearly $81.5 million spending plan for 2020/2021. The budget calls for about $57.6 million to be raised by taxes.

It sets forth an estimated school tax rate of $1.708 per $100 of a property’s assessed valuation.

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“A big takeaway here is our reduction in state aid of $1,559,954,” said Roxbury Schools Business Administrator Joseph Mondanaro. “Roxbury, over the next five years, is projected to lose more than $6 million” in state aid.

Mondanaro said the cut in Roxbury's share of state money is due to a 2018 law that modified New Jersey’s school funding formula.

“We are also aware of a few recent bills that the state Senate passed in response to COVID-19,” he said.

One, S-2338, extended the state's fiscal year until Sept. 30. Mondanaro said the governor will be submitting a revised budget on August 25, noting, “It is more than likely that his revised budget will include a reduction in education appropriations.”

Mondanaro said he and Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic “have already begun to identify projects that we may have to forgo next year.”

Big Slice of the Tax Pie

School taxes make up the biggest part of property taxes, more than 60 percent, followed by municipal government taxes, county taxes, municipal open space preservation taxes and township library taxes.

The Roxbury Township Council will vote next month on a proposed budget of about $29.8 million. As the COVID-19 crises is forcing many people into difficult financial situations, township officials said they are removing anything from the new budget that would require a municipal tax increase.

Similarly, the Morris County freeholders have introduced a $315.8 million county budget that includes no tax increase.

Mondanaro said the school district “did not remove any big proposed expenditures in order to keep the tax rate low.” However, he noted the district did “allocate $2.5 million of fund balance to offset the (tax) levy.”

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