If voters approve school budgets next week, Sea Bright, which sends students to two different districts and has no schools of its own, will see both increases and decreases to the education portions of tax bills.
But borough property owners will still be saddled with an outsized tab for the 17 students it sends to Shore Regional High in West Long Branch: $90,000 per kid, almost three times as much as any other sending district pays.
The Oceanport school district, where the borough’s elementary students go, had a small increase to its overall budget, which means an increase for Sea Bright.
And at the high school, Shore Regional, an overall 1.9 percent decrease to its budget will mean Sea Bright’s tax payment will “go way down,” Councilwoman Dina Long said.
Still, the borough is paying much, much more per student than any other town to send their kids to that school.
In Oceanport, the district’s $8.6 million budget will cost the average taxpayer an extra $100 a year.
If approved, the tax rate will increase 2.57 cents per $100 of average assessed property value. That’s an increase of $100 annually to a property owner with the average assessed value of $399,000.
Although there’s the potential for an increase, Long said the Oceanport district did what it could to keep spending down.
“They have achieved major cost savings. The budget is very lean,” she said. “I’m not sure, if it fails, what’s left to cut from it.”
Further details can be found on the district’s website.
At Shore Regional, where 17 Sea Bright students go to high school, the overall budget was decreased by 1.9 per cent, to about $14 million, Long said. The tax rate will go down 5.6 cents per $100 of average assessed property value, to 30 cents per $100, meaning a decrease of $220 for the year for the average property.
But even though taxes are going down for Sea Bright’s share of Shore Regional’s budget, it doesn’t mean the borough is getting any great deal. The break down of what towns pay is formulated by the state, and of the four sending towns to Shore Regional, Sea Bright pays well above any other town in per pupil spending.
Oceanport spends about $13,000 per student; West Long Branch pays about $15,000; Monmouth Beach pays about $35,000; and Sea Bright pays about $90,000 per head, Long said.
“That’s fair,” Councilman Read Murphy said sarcastically.
“The regional schools formula is horribly unjust,” Long said.
The formulas for the two school districts are different, but both created by the state, Long said.
For years Sea Bright got hammered by Shore Regional’s budget, but as enrollment declines, the amount Sea Bright pays is slowly going down.
“We’re not complaining because our share is going down, but it’s important to me for people to know we’re still paying $90,000 a head,” Long said.
She also said it’s important to note that, considering the pressures school districts faced this year, they all worked for the least impact on taxpayers.
“The administrators really worked hard on these budgets, and it’s really evident that they’re trying to hold the line,” she said. “School budgets are great news for Sea Bright residents this year, because even though Oceanport is going up $100, Shore Regional is going down by $200. So it’s not a bad year.”
If these budgets are approved by voters next week, they’ll be factored with Sea Bright’s municipal budget, along with county taxes, to make up the year’s taxes.
On Tuesday night, the borough approved its $5.19 million municipal budget. That’s an increase of 3 cents per $100 of average assessed property value, to 74 cents, a roughly $30 increase to tax bills, Chief Financial Officer Mike Bascom said.