RBR BUDGET SAILS TO PASSAGE

By SARAH KLEPNER

Red Bank Regional’s board of education unanimously passed the district’s 2013-2014 budget last week, with no comment from the public.

The 50-minute meeting Thursday night was sparsely attended, with fewer than 10 in attendance, including staff and teachers.

This year’s budget is 1.5-percent smaller than last year’s, which amounts to shrinkage of just over $403,000, for total spending of $26.6 million.

Board officials attributed the shrinkage in part to cost-cutting measures, including the district’s participation in purchasing cooperatives for supplies and equipment, and several shared service agreements with neighboring districts and towns.

Mike Megill, finance committee chair, talked about producing the zero-based budget by going over every line item with  department supervisors. Noted items include the addition of an Italian teacher and the implementation of a new teacher evalution system.

“It’s a challenging process,” he said. State aid info only becomes available close to when the budget is due, and support from the state has dropped 33 percent since 2010, he noted.

Megill also detailed the complex formula for setting the cost-sharing portion for each of the three towns in the district – Red Bank, Little Silver and Shrewsbury. In addition to looking at the number of students attending from the town and property values, includes things like a line item for “personal property,” which refers to a town’s contribution to local infrastructure.

“It’s so archaic and goes back so far,”he said.

This year, the formula cranked out slightly different results for each town. Red Bank’s contribution declined an average per household less than $10 per year. Little Silver’s portion increased noticeably, about $90 per year. But it’s Shrewsbury’s part which went up the most: almost $160 per year.

Rates per $100 of assessed value:

Little Silver: $.55, up 1.6 cents
Red Bank: $.38, down 0.2 cents
Shrewsbury: $.58, up 3.4 cents

Shrewsbury board member Frank Neary said he was “constantly mindful  – I do get calls” about his town’s share, but attributed it to an increase in attendance from the borough. “There’s a lot of kids coming to RBR from Shrewsbury.”

A public meeting to answer questions about the budget is scheduled for April 9 at Shrewsbury borough hall.