Caldwell - West Caldwell Taxes - by the Numbers: Schools

Historic SCHOOL budget reduces tax levy during recession in Caldwell-West Caldwell

Diane Lilli
Posted

It's great news for taxpayers but it's not magic.

The school board, after suffering a few years of deep cuts and drastically reduced state aid, has come in with a tax levy cut. After numerous, difficult meetings over the past few years with the public, the board of education (BOE) had to take serious actions to come in under the state mandated 2 percent tax levy cap - and with health care, pension costs, and other costs rising as usual, this school district along with every school district in New Jersey suffered.

But now, there is good news for the schools, the taxpayers, and the students.

Now that the Caldwell - West Caldwell Board of Education (BOE) budget has been approved and sent to the county superintendent for final approval, the residents of both towns will see a lower tax levy with no cuts to programs, or staff.

This is an historic budget for the school district.

For the past few years, the Caldwell - West Caldwell BOE has been grappling with drastically reduced state aid; a lower tax cap mandated by the state - which forced them to reduce the budget by slashing staff; making school aides part time instead of full time to reduce health care costs, and cut all kinds of project funding.

But, after successfully slashing costs in the district, the board of education is "lean and mean" and now, the tax levy will once again reflect a healthy, fiscally prudent BOE that still offers a highly rated source of education.

BY THE NUMBERS

State aid increased for the 2012 -2013 school year, from $928,000 to $1,046,000.

BOE tax levy will go DOWN to $37,551,082.

The tax levy for an average homeowner in both Caldwell and West Caldwell will be well under the 2 percent mandated cap. It will not be zero, but it will be low. For an average priced home of $450,000 the tax levy would be about $225 in Caldwell and $167 in West Caldwell.
(Since the tax levy for Caldwell residents is higher than West Caldwell, due to the valuations of homes Caldwell homeowners pay more for their school portion of the bill.)

Last year, it was also a lean budget and offered voters a zero percent tax levy increase. If you own an average priced home of $432,000 your tax levy for the boe portion last year was $129. Click here for previous article.

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

Highlights:
Budget increase .55% - well under the 2% cap- approximately $966,000+
The average increase over three years is $140,507.
Additional State Aid of $241,518 will show decrease in tax levy for both towns- about .64%
Things that attributed to low increase
Breakage due to retirements resulted in a decrease in salary account by $334,000
Employee contribution to benefits account decreased by $296,000+ even though insurance costs increased $6,603. Waiver benefits resulted in $180,000+ savings
Increases in the budget consisted of
Special Education costs up $175,000 and continue to rise. Out of district placements cost $378,000 with one out of district placement costing the district $275,000 alone as a result of a court order.
Textbooks, staff training , teaching supplies and technology services increased by $230,000
Operations and maintenance services and supplies increased. Insurance up $6,200 and utilities up due to water use charge by Caldwell.
Food services is self sufficient and is not include in the tax levy
Restoring the Bridge counselor in the elementary schools, staff development costs for consultants, Leveled readers for the elementary school and a resource room teacher at the high school to decrease out of district placements
Cooperative agreements and shared services helped to lower the budget
Monies were earmarked for in capital reserve and should be done each year in order to ward off the need for a bond referendum.

WHY YOU ARE NOT VOTING FOR THIS BUDGET

As published here on numerous occassions, a new law was passed stating that if your BOE come in with a budget under the 2 percent cap there is NO VOTE for the budget.

Updates to follow.

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