FAIR HAVEN TAX UP, RUMSON’S DOWN AT R-FH

r-fhThe high school’s budget will raise taxes in Fair Haven, but lower taxes in Rumson. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Rumson-Fair Haven Superintendent Pete Righi says he hasn’t seen a tax increase this small in about 15 years, and as a result, one of the two sending towns to the high school will see a drop in taxes.

The other will see an increase.

The school’s $16.3 million budget for 2011-’12, of which $15.1 million will be raised through local taxes, calls for an increase of $10.92 per every $100,000 of assessed property value in Fair Haven; in Rumson, the budget, if approved, would mean a drop of $1.41 per every $100,000, Business Administrator Frank Gripp said.

The two boroughs pay different percentages toward the school’s budget based on a formula mandated by the state. The average assessed value in Fair Haven is $500,000; in Rumson, it’s $1 million.

The district increased spending by about $338,000, or 2.1 percent, over this year’s $16 million budget, with staffing costs eating up most of the school’s expenditures. R-FH also increased its capital improvement budget by about $40,000, which had been all but done away with in this year’s budget.

“This year we justified every increase,” Righi said. “This is the lowest tax increase in probably 15 years.”

The $15.1 million to be raised locally, as compared to this year’s $14.9 million, is a 1.1 percent increase to the overall tax levy, Gripp said.

The school was also able to save money by sharing services, consolidating positions and not replacing retirees, Righi said. It also benefited from the restoration of state aid, which was completely cut in the ’10-11 school year.

“It’s a tremendous help to us,” Gripp said of the $162,000 in returned aid. “We are very fortunate that we are able to maintain existing programs and services.”

The school’s tax rate will be incorporated, along with county, open space and elementary school rates, into local tax bills.

The budget will be up for a vote on April 27.