Find out which districts will be required to raise property taxes under a new state plan.
New Jersey is about to require tax hikes in as many as 30 school districts as part of an under-the-radar maneuver so rare that school officials themselves are still trying to figure out who is affected.
The state’s new school funding plan adds $400 million in aid to schools and, in theory, will provide tax relief for some homeowners once Gov. Phil Murphy signs off on it. The plan is meant to even out aid, shifting money from districts considered overfunded to those considered underfunded.
But the flip slide is that some districts are about to get hit next year with a virtually unprecedented order: Hike your taxes by 2 percent.
“I’ve been in this business 50 years,” said John Donahue, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials. “I have never heard that before, no.”
Many districts are already raising taxes by 2 percent a year, so the state’s order could have little impact in some towns, aside from giving local boards of education cover to approve the hikes. It’s also not known exactly how many districts will fall under the mandate because it’s based on figures from the state’s school funding formula that change every year.
What’s clear is forced increases will be imminent in Jersey City, Toms River and Brick and could also hit about two dozen smaller districts over the next six years, according to a list compiled by Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s office.
The tax increases apply to districts that are both seeing a reduction in state aid and also not spending as much as the state’s school funding formula says they should.
Those districts also haven’t been taxing as much as they need to, according to the state’s formula.
“You’re not going to use the state as a piggybank so that we pay everything and you don’t have to,” Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said when announcing the plan. “Our money is leaving.”
State lawmakers passed the plan last month but did not release the full list of schools that would be affected. Some districts contacted by NJ Advance Media were still unsure whether the mandate would affect them.
But in Toms River, one of the districts hit hardest by the loss of state funding, officials are speaking out and calling the forced tax increase …read more
Source:: New Jersey Real-Time News