By JOHN T. WARD
Borough homeowners and other property owners found out about the 12.74-percent spike in the local school portion of the tax when they received their bills late last week, more than three months after the board of education adopted a budget indicating a 6.95-percent increase.
Included with the bills, and posted on the borough website,, was a “message to Red Bank taxpayers” that did not explain why the increase was so much higher than previously reported.
According to borough Chief Financial Officer Eugenia Poulous, the culprit was a $117 million drop in taxable real estate values, to $2.07 billion. The majority of the decline was the result of settlements and judgments on tax appeals filed by owners of apartment complexes and other commercial properties, she said.
The borough received certified figures showing the drop from the Monmouth County Board of Taxation in mid-July, almost three months after the board of ed adopted its $24.85-million 2015-’16 budget. That spending plan was based on the 2014 net valuation figure of $2.192 billion, she said.
Re-apportioning the amount to be raised by the two-school district from borough taxpayers sent the rate up, she said.
For the owner of a home valued at the borough-average assessment of $384,836, the new school rate of $.770 per $100 of valuation, puts that portion of the tax bill at $2,963.24 for the year, instead of $2,811.11 under the board of ed’s budget. And it follows a 10-percent increase in the average homeowner’s share of school costs in 2014.
The municipal tax, meanwhile, which was unchanged from 2014, was unaffected by the new property value figures because the borough had anticipated the drop in its budget, Poulos said.
The school district “never took into account the fact that our values went down,” she said Saturday.
Schools Superintendent Jared Rumage, however, tells redbankgreen that the district wasn’t privy to the data.
“It is my understanding that the borough received that information after they certified our budget – meaning they did not even have that information yet,” he said in an email.” You are asking me if I had adequate information, but the reality is that we did not have any information.”
Rumage said he only learned of the sharp upward adjustments from the letter insert in the tax bills. “I was expecting the tax increase to reflect the tax levy,” he said. “They are never exactly the same but this was a huge discrepancy due to the decrease in total assessed value.”
The new figures, he said, “should have been presented differently or accompanied by an explanation. The additional percentage comes from a scenario not attributed to the public school district. I am assuming RBR might be in the same scenario.”
Here are the rate increases by component levy reported in the borough letter insert:
Local Municipal Tax (-0.37%)
County Tax +2.43%
District School Tax +12.74%
Regional School Tax +6.57%
County Open Space Tax +7.69%
Municipal Library Tax +6.46%
The board of ed’s next meeting is a workshop session at the middle school on August 11 that is expected to open to the public at 7:30 p.m.