Driven by rising salary and benefit costs, the school tax in Fair Haven would increase by about 2.6 cents per $100 of property valuation, according to a report in today’s Asbury Park Press.

A proposed $13.26 million spending plan introduced by the Board of Ed Monday calls for $11.03 million to be raised from borough property owners, an increase of $558,000 from last year’s spending plan, the Press reports.

The district, which includes the pre-k through grade 3 Sickles School and grades 4-8 Knollwood School, provides education to about 1,000 students. A separate tax is imposed by the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High district.

From the Press:

“This budget is exactly the same as last year in the things we have control over,” Board President Andrea Bakst said. “It is not adding anything programmatically.”

While state officials ballyhooed an additional $300 million in aid in
the governor’s proposed budget, Fair Haven saw state aid basically stay
the same as it was in 2008.

The district also saw a 1.6 percent increase in salaries, a 7.1 percent increase in benefits and a 6.6 percent increase in special-education costs form the current school year’s budget. Expenditures increased by $557,928 over the 2008-09 budget.

“Those are the top three (expenses) that we have no control over. Salaries and benefits are contractual,” said Nancy Walrath, board finance committee chairwoman.

Officials plan to use $323,852 from the district’s reserve fund to offset taxes, Walrath said. She cautioned that is a one-time infusion of funds the district won’t be able to repeat next year.

The Press says the budget would increase the school portion of the local property tax by $32.79 per $100,000 of assessed property value. The newspaper provided no information to explain why the increase of 2.6 cents per $100 doesn’t add up to $26 per $100,000.

A public hearing on the plan is scheduled for 7p March 31 at the Knollwood School.

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