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FAIR HAVEN: TAXES ON THE TABLE

fh-b39-l6-fisk-st-122016-500x382-4536121The February sale of a vacant borough-owned lot on Fisk Street helped keep a lid on property taxes this year, said Administrator Theresa Casagrande.   (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Taxes dominated the Fair Haven council’s semimonthly meeting Monday night, with a borough budget up for adoption and presentations on spending plans by two school districts on the agenda.

Bottom line(s): a drop in the borough levy, a drop in the local school tax, and an increase in the one that funds the regional high school.

• The borough’s plan to spend $9.49 million this year won unanimous council approval. It calls for a 4.3-percent drop in the local tax rate, to $.388 per $100 assessment, according to the user-friendly budget available on the borough website.

The net result is that the owner of a home assessed at the borough-average $770,600 would pay $14 less this year toward the local portion of the tax bill, excluding school, library, Monmouth County and Open Space levies.

Last year, the average assessment was $741,546; four years ago, it was $550,678.

Administrator Theresa Casagrande said the tax load was lightened by the February 27 sale at auction of a vacant borough-owned lot on Fisk Street. From an opening bid of $330,000, two bidders drove the price up in $5,000 increments until Kevin Gosney made the winning offer of $405,000, according to meeting minutes.

• Rumson-Fair Haven Regional Superintendent Pete Righi and Business Administrator Frank Gripp offered an outline of the high school district’s $19.46 million operating budget for the year, which calls for a three-percent increase in the tax.

The increase exceeds the state-mandated two-percent levy cap because of allowable adjustments for enrollment growth, said Gripp.

The plan includes capital spending on Borden Stadium for “better ADA compliance” and needed repairs, with about $250,000 in costs expected this year, Gripp said.

Rumson residents continue to carry more than two-thirds of the levy burden, though that borough’s share declined slightly this year, continuing a trend over the prior three years. Fair Havenites now pay 30.7 percent of the levy, up from 30.4 percent last year, according to figures supplied by the district.

In Rumson, the average home assessment dropped by about $5,000 last year, to $1.333 million, Gripp said.

The R-FH board of ed is scheduled to meet next on Tuesday, May 2.

• Under the borough school district’s $14.96 million operating budget, taxes would decrease by $58 for the owner of a home assessed at the new borough average, Business Administrator Val Petrone told redbankgreen. That’s even after accounting for the increase in home values, she said.

The smaller levy, she said, was largely thanks to the extinguishment of a bond that covered improvements to Knollwood School 20 years ago. The final payment will be made in early June, she said.

First-year Superintendent Sean McNeil outlined plans for a revamped curriculum starting in September to address what he called “disappointing” scores under the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, testing regime.

A curriculum audit found that “there were quite a few holes in what were were teaching our students, which have now been addressed,” McNeil said.

The district’s budget is on the board of education‘s agenda for Wednesday night, Petrone said.

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