Mendham Township Schools Need Additional $2
No change in school tax levy for Mendham Twp. in the budget planned for 2012-2013, but a $2 average household increase is expected.
Improving working conditions without additional cost to the taxpayer is what Mendham Township is hoping will garner the residents' support on a proposed school budget that goes before a vote on April 17. The proposed 2012-13 budget has the same $13,895,226 tax levy of the past two school years.
As one of the only districts in the region that did not move their elections to November, Mendham Township voters will need to approve their budget. Districts that moved their elections will forgo budget referendum as long as the budgets fall within the state’s 2 percent cap.
This year’s budget will be calculated at a tax rate of $.7972 per $100 of assessment or $797 per $100,000. The proposed school tax rate would be $.7975 per $100 of assessment or $797 of $100,000 of assessment. The average assessed value of a home at $914,361 will have a yearly tax increase of $2.00.
This less than a penny increase is the result of the minor change in tax rate, a total net property increased valuation of approximately $335,100, an increase of debt service of $60,358 and the fact that tax years are based on the calendar year not the fiscal year leaving tax payers to pay for ½ of 2011/2012 and of ½ of the proposed 2012/2013 budget (0% general fund tax levy increase) in their 2012 tax bill.
The $2 increase does not factor in town, county or regional district burdens.
Mendham Township Superintendent Kristopher Harrison and Business Administrator Deborah Muscara said the rise is due to the township's total net property valuation increasing to $335,000 and increase in debt to $60,385 (with unavoidable increases to things like insurance and fuel costs).
The officials said the tax rate was largely unaffected because of $416,000 in state education aid (an increase from $155,501) and the $386,314 in surplus funds (an increase from $103,102).
“What everyone needs to know is that we operate on a zero base budget,” Harrison said. “There is no pot of money given out where people are told to spend it. No, every dollar is accounted for and when people ask for money they need to show a need for it.”
Harrison presented his synopsis of the budget to the public and the board of education during the Feb. 15 and introduced it formally at the Feb 28 meeting at the elementary school. Harrison stressed that while there were some large expenditures, they would serve to save money in the long run and that their plan allowed them to affect repairs and upgrades without sacrificing staffing and programs.
Harrison elaborated on what $2 can buy the people of Mendham Township. The full list including new initiatives in the presentation can be found in the PDF, but some of the needs are repair projects to the roof of the elementary school, sidewalk repair, molding repair and other assorted preventative measures like new exterior doors for one wing of the school and a catwalk for repair crews to traverse so as not to damage the HVAC systems.
“Now when we have repair and maintenance crews up there they won’t be walking on the units to get where they need to go,” Harrison said. “That will save money in costly repairs.”
Total cost for those initiatives is estimated to be $105,606.
Projects included in the middle school budget include a new walkway, repairs to the gymnasium walls and new cafeteria tables. “They have gone past their serviceable life,” Harrison said.
Those projects are estimated at $59,200.
As part of a district-wide energy conservation initiative updating the fluorescent and outdoor lighting as well as the installation of motion and daylight sensors are planned.
The cost of these upgrades is said to be $46,700.
“What is great about these changes is that they pay for themselves with the money you save on energy,” Harrison said. “In three or four years you would have paid off the upgrades.”
The district also plans on purchasing a new K-5 mathematics textbook and spend the money on professional development and training to keep up with the state standards.
The total cost of that is thought to be $60,600.
Also on the list for the coming year are investments in the technology infrastructure. Some 90 laptops, 55 desktops and 19 document cameras are among the items desired.
That cost comes in at $83,100.
“It is important to note that we aren’t just purchasing these new computers,” Harrison said. “We are replacing the ones that are aging and rotating the old computers into the classroom.”
According to Harrison, a combination of smart spending and seeding the infrastructure has paid off for the district. “We changed health insurance providers which saved a lot of money without sacrificing the coverage. We networked the printers to save on toner and ink rather than have one per classroom,” Harrison said. “And we spent the money on many projects that would reduce costs over time.”
The end result is a budget that matches the previous year without taking away from staffing or programs. In the end, officials are hoping their work will warrant the residents' support.
“Please come out and support the budget!” Harrison said at the conclusion of the meeting.