By DON STINE
Loch Arbour has approached both Interlaken and Loch Arbour with a proposal to merge with the village but the idea was eventually rejected by both towns.
“We are looking at alternatives to see if there are other ways to solve our school problem. The proposed mergers are not going through and we will investigate other means,” Mayor Paul Fernicola said earlier this week.“It’s another way to investigate all options to solve the school tax problem.”
During a special meeting last week, the village Board of Commissioners allocated up to $10,000 to hire the law firm of Sills, Cummis and Gross, based in Newark, to look into the matter.
Loch Arbour residents saw their annual school tax rise by $1.3 million, or to $1.6 million, about four years ago after the state Legislature enacted the School Funding Reform Act.
The village’s school tax bill, now based on property valuation, has risen to about $2 million annually and had increased village residents taxes by about $15,000 a year on the average home.
Previously, Loch Arbour paid a maximum of $300,000 a year to send its children to Ocean Township schools.
It was recently costing about $98,000 to educate each of the village’s students in Ocean Township schools whereas the actual per-pupil cost in the district is close to $15,000.