If the school budget is approved next week the school tax rate in Neptune will drop by about six cents this year although the average homeowner will pay an extra $66 in school taxes due to the increased value of homes in the township.
The total $91.5 million budget, to be voted by the public on April 17, calls for a school tax rate of about 98 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation, down from about a $1.04 tax rate last year. However, due to an increase in ratables, the school taxes for an average home went from $3,023 to $3,089, or an increase of $66. The average home increased in value from $291,5000 to $316,479.
In order to keep the tax rate low, the school board appropriated about $2 million in surplus to offset expenses.
State aid to Neptune had leveled off in recent years but Superintendent of Schools Tami Crader said the school district received about $850,000 for this budget, which is about $200,000 more than last year.
“But we still had to find money to fund our charter schools and some other programs,” she said.
Crader said that $2 million in surplus was applied to the budget to meet those obligations.
“We try to make sure we balance the needs of taxpayers with the needs of our students,” she said.
She said money also went to summer programs, improving reading skills and literacy and reading coaches.
Student enrollment in the school district has gone down over the last five years but Crader said it seems to be leveling off, with 4,087 students now in the district.
The budget is capped at the state-imposed two percent limit on spending increases.
Polls are open from 3 to 8 p.m.