UNION, NJ – School taxes for the average taxpayer in Union will be raised by $58.60 according to school Business Administrator Manuel Vieira during Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.

In his budget presentation, Vieira said the 2020-2021 proposed budget was reduced by about $5 million, which equates to approximately 60 positions.  Vieira said the cuts will be handled “through scheduling, some class size increases, and through attrition, minimize any job loss.”

“We’re already looking at ways, like Mr. Vieira stated, through scheduling in our middle schools and high school, looking at other areas we can cut to save positions,” said Assistant Superintendent Gerry Benaquista.  “We’ve already started working on that.”  Benaquista said he didn’t want to speak for Superintendent Tatum, who was not at the meeting, but “he has a lot on his desk as far as where he anticipates the cuts coming from.  But, the $5 million, obviously, is not going to be just positions."

Sign Up for Union Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

During his presentation, Vieira said the budget consists of three funds:  General Fund:  $131,845,513; Special Revenue Fund (federal and state entitlement grants):  $7,100,637; and Debt Services Fund:  $2,804,650 for a total budget of $141,750,800.

Vieira said the proposed budget includes a state aid increase of 1.2 percent ($393,478) and a local tax levy increase of 2 percent ($1,831,433).  He said the tax impact on the average Union homeowner is $58.60.  Vieira said although the tax levy is increasing by 2 percent, the tax rate will only increase 1.22 percent.  He said the reason for that “is there is about $7 million in new construction assessments in the Township of Union.  So, when the assessment base increases, that lowers the tax rate.  That’s a good thing for the taxpayers.”

Vieira said the two budget items with the highest increase were Employee Benefits (increasing $1.2 million) and Transportation Services (increasing $1.8 million).  He said the transportation services costs are mainly attributable to contracted services for special education students.

Vieira said there are 7,200 students enrolled in Union schools:  6,000 (84 percent) general education, and 1,200 (16 percent) special education students.  He said there are 1,200 employees (1,058 full-time and 142 part-time). 

Vieira said a public hearing on the proposed budget is set for April 30.