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Sequestration Could Mean School Tax Hike For Scotch Plains, Fanwood

Although the Board of Education is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars less in the proposed 2013-14 budget, federal sequestration could cause a rise in costs for taxpayers.


The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education has presented a preliminary budget at the past two board meetings, which included anticipated revenue and expenditures that could mean a 1.7 percent increase for Scotch Plains residents and a 2.11 percent increase for Fanwood residents, however this is reliant on whether or not state funding is cut due to sequestration.

School Board President Trip Whitehouse made it clear that although percentages could go up on average, the board is spending less money overall, it is just a matter of state funding, which the board will get the final numbers of on Feb. 28.

Business Administrator Deborah Saridaki said it was recommended that due to the potential federal sequestration that the board only budget 70 percent of what was received during the 2012-2013 year and that it was what the tentative budget reflects.

Whitehouse added that it is also possible this could go the other way and they receive more than the 70 percent from the state.

“Our revenue is divided into different types of revenue, our operating revenue comes from two different sources – local sources and state and other aid, our tax levy is anticipated to go up 2 percent and the only portion of that that goes up is the operating tax levy,” Saridaki stated.

Whitehouse stated that the board is spending $660,000 less but because revenue from the other sources is less, the local side of funding the district is higher.

Currently the revenue side is showing state aid, but that is always the wildcard, Superintendent Margaret Hayes said. She added that once they find out from the state the amount of aid they are receiving on Feb. 28 they have exactly one week to turn it around because the budget needs to be presented to the county on March 7.

Another budget meeting will be held on March 6 to discuss a budget that will reflect any necessary changes to state aid before it is given to the county the following day.

The largest expenditures of the Board of Education includes, 57.56 percent for staffing at over 47 millions dollars and 17.95 percent in health insurance, which has increased in cost since 2012-2013. 

The overall amount for the operating funds for 2013-2014 is within the 2 percent cap from last year at $76,313,227.

Also, 4.5 new additions will be made in staffing due to an increase in enrollment.

The Board of Education along with the PTA has planned two public “coffees” to introduce the Proposed 2013-2014 School Budget with the communities.  These sessions will take place at 7:30 p.m. on March 12 at Park Middle School and on March 19 at Terrill Middle School.

The Public Hearing on the 2013-2014 Budget will take place March 21 at 8 p.m. at the Board of Education Administrative Office.

Paul89 February 27, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Sequestration is 2.4% reduction in planned budget by Federal government of about an 8% INCREASE in planned spending...meaning the Feds are spending MORE than last year. State aide is NJ $$. Seems there would be more effect from reduced state tax collections after Hurricane Sandy. This seems more like a political statement than a local budget comment. If there are doubts about funding maybe the BOE shouldn't be buying property on Terrill Rd without checking with the taxpayers!! Tell me again how you are not sure what you will do with that property. I think you know exactly what is planned.
Rich Fortunato February 28, 2013 at 12:15 PM
For Paul89 Without getting into the sequestration point you make (with which I agree but maybe the BOE discussion isn't the place to join in on that), as for the property they are buying, I was at the meeting and asked a question about it. They quite clearly said that they have no plans as to what to do with it. They said they would demolish the house that is there now and leave it as open space for the time being. Whether some or all of the Board or the administrators have in mind things that they'd like in the future to get the Board to agree to, it is hard to say. But they pretty clearly claimed that they had no plans. The thought seemed to be that the property was on the market, was only one of 2 which are adjacent to the school on Terrill Road (the other being owned by the Evangel Church) and so they ought to grab it before it goes off the market for who knows how long. Whether its a wise use of the money is hard to say, since their finances are a little opaque to say the least.
Brian Mattison February 28, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Give me a break while there may be some effects from the sequester (debatable) this seems like politics to raise taxes more. I wish they would change school funding so it wouldn't come out of property taxes (seems discriminatory to those without children).
Bemused March 01, 2013 at 12:41 AM
I don't think I should have to pay for roads I don't drive on. Or wars I don't agree with. Or parks I don't go to. This seems discriminatory to me. Brian shouldn't have to pay for schools if he doesn't have kids. Education and democracy are mutually incompatible.
Nicole Bitette (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Hi all, The SPF Board of Ed received $90,124 in state aid but after their debt service it's a little over $34k. Here's the latest... http://scotchplains.patch.com/articles/spf-school-district-receives-90k-increase-in-2013-2014-state-aid
Paul89 March 01, 2013 at 04:47 AM
Can you tell me how much of the NJ STATE AID came from Federal funds that are to be cut via Sequestration by the FEDERAL government as suggested? How much was received in State Aid last budget? How much was funding reduced under the influence of Hurricane Sandy's effects on state revenues?
Reading comprehension March 01, 2013 at 11:13 AM
Hey genius. These are 2 different sources of funding that you're co- mingling. There is the state aid that you capitalize and then there is federal aid for IDEA. That is for Headstart programs and for special Ed. THAT is what may be cut. Try comprehending what you read.
sp resident March 01, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Please tell me when will this stop? Something must be done! I am tired paying these outrageous tax increases on my property. You all need to find the money elsewhere, and leave my property ALONE!
Nicole Bitette (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 06:21 PM
Hi Paul, The amount of federal funding in terms of grants is yet to be determined. That is what Saridaki said they budgeted 30 percent less for - but those numbers aren't available yet. As for Sandy, it was not specified in that document. I'm not sure if your questions will be answered at the March 6th meeting, but that is when the board will make the appropriate changes to the budget based on the state aid numbers in the above article. However, they are still anticipating less in grants, as mentioned above.
Paul89 March 01, 2013 at 07:53 PM
To Reading comprehension, Special Ed funds are not specified in the article. I have no problem with taxes to replace any funding for that. Headstart has been shown to be a waste of money with no increased results to the students. The article title indicated cuts would be from sequestration and ignored any other reasons. I do see however that SP-F received the 3rd highest increase in aid in the county! No cut. I think it's important to note that sequestration is a reduction of a increase and the budget is higher than last year...Not a "cut."
ralphwiggummm March 02, 2013 at 04:40 AM
when I look in my wallet and find less money there than expected I spend less. What is the lesson here BOA?


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