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BOE Votes to Use State Aid Dollars to Reduce Tax Hike

Emergency meeting was held Monday night on how to apply $1.3 million in extra funding

In a 5-2 vote at an emergency meeting Monday night, the Brick Township Board of Education voted to apply the $1.3 million the township unexpectedly to tax relief for Brick residents.

The average Brick household – calculated as a house assessed at $304,000 – would have seen a tax increase of $54.94 this year, but will now see an increase of $15.16. That translates to an average savings of $38.78 per household.

At the meeting, Superintendent Walter Hrycenko argued that the money should be used to “invest” in the township’s schools through capital improvement projects. He said potential projects included adding air-conditioning to rooms with expensive server equipment, replacing exterior doors and hardware at Brick Township High School, and replacing old boilers with new energy-efficient and cost-saving geothermal energy systems.

"This is an opportunity to do some of the work that we have do," Hrycenko said before the vote.

The superintendent also argued that the Board would actually be saving Brick taxpayers’ money by using the state funds for capital projects because the new state money was tied in with state-funded ROD, or Regular Operating District, grants.

In allocating the money for tax relief, however, the board followed the of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration. After announcing the dispensing of additional aid last week, administration officials publicly urged school districts to use the money to defray the cost of local property taxes.

"The additional education aid included in this year's budget is an opportunity to reduce property tax burdens by lowering local property tax levies for this fiscal year or the next and move closer toward real reform in our schools," said Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts in a statement.

The state also required the township to notify them of their plans for the money by Tuesday, July 19. That means school officials had only one week to make recommendations about what could be done with the money and were forced to schedule the emergency meeting for Monday night.

Board member Walter F. Campbell, who motioned the board to allocate the money for tax relief, acknowledged that the $38 savings per average household might not seem like a significant number, but argued that it was important to show taxpayers that the board understood the strains taxpayers are under financially. He also argued that this past year was a huge year in terms of capital projects for the district with about $5 million already allocated for that purpose.

The two dissenting votes were cast by Board members Len Cuppari and Kim V. Terebush. Cuppari argued that the schools would likely not see this kind of surplus money in the near future and that the time for action on these many repairs was now.

"I'd rather see this money go to the kids because I don't think we're going to see it again," Cuppari said.

The reduction in the tax burden will take effect when the township sends its tax bills to residents in August.

Wartungsmann July 20, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Jag, you hit the proverbial nail on the head. Several members of the Board do not truly understand the job function for which they have volunteered.
Wartungsmann July 20, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Dear School Board Members, I encourage you to read the following: "School Board members uphold and enforce all laws, rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, and court orders pertaining to schools. Responsibility of School Board Members in New Jersey is confined to policy-making, planning and appraisal, and helping frame policies and plans after consultation with those affected by them. A Board Member's responsibility is not to administer the schools, but to see that they are well run. Each member of a board of education, before entering upon the duties of his office, takes an oath of office. Each member is required to abide by a state-mandated Code of Ethics for School Board Members, which includes making decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children, developing, and maintaining public schools that meet the individual needs of all children regardless of ability, race, creed, sex or social standing." Funny, I see nothing in there that even remotely says anything about it being your responsibility to concern yourselves with tax relief...YOU WERE VOTED IN TO ACT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILDREN!!!
Denny D July 20, 2011 at 01:33 PM
Mr. Campbell was NOT voted in and it appears he is calling the shots. He has long railed against any and all spending. Now the tail is wagging the dog.
Acamedics July 20, 2011 at 02:09 PM
The App states 8 citizens attended this meeting and this Patch article clearly shows at least 25 citizens that would have preferred the other outcome. Was it a block party for one of the Board members that will be getting a bigger piece of the pie? Yes it was. Rmember that the Brick School Board's MO is too make decisions that are causing the school district to spiral out of control, and then mums the word. Hello, everyone needs to speak up and get our schools fixed.
DeepSigh July 20, 2011 at 05:57 PM
It's just as fair as them paying more than the $54.94 in the first place.

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