R-FH BUDGET: R TAX UP, FH, DOWN

Rumson resident Joe Kopel raises a few questions with the R-FH board Tuesday night. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

With six residents in the audience, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High board of education ok’d a $16.9 million spending plan for 2013-’14 that increases taxes on Rumson property owners and reduces them for Fair Havenites.

For Rumsonites, the levy per $100,000 of assessed property value rises4.8 percent, or $18,59, to $407, said Business Administrator Frank Gripp. Fair Haven residents will see their bills decline 1.3 percent, or $5.30 per $100,000, to $391.

The apportionment is the product of a notoriously complex formula that takes into account factors such as property value changes and school population, among others. Following a trend of recent years, the split puts 72.5 percent of the burden on Rumson residents and 27.5 on Fair Haven residents, Gripp said.

The total levy increased by the maximum 2 percent allowable by law, to $15.6 million.

Gripp emphasized an expansion of the Chinese language program and called out safety and security as primary goals, reporting that the school will be installing a uniform lock system, numbering doors and classrooms on the outside of the building, and expanding the camera system, which is used by the school and local police.

Gripp also noted increased costs for healthcare insurance, worker’s comp benefits, and property insurance premiums.

One member of the public, Joe Kopel of Rumson, spoke during public comment. He raised a number of financial concerns, from handling of reserves to administrator salaries.

Here’s the user-friendly budget presentation prepared by the board: R-FH Budge 2013-14