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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.

Michael July 19, 2011 at 03:36 PM
And this is why I would choose to spend the $55 now instead of $3000 per year from grades K-6, and then however else much from grades 7-12 to make sure my child wasn't at a competitive disadvantage when applying to college. Money isn't always the answer, but allocating resources towards improving academic courses and the conditions of the buildings should be of paramount importance to this district.
Jersey Girl July 19, 2011 at 03:43 PM
The sad reality is, if they voted for improvements in the schools, and someone's school was not in that plan then there would be complaining. I have lived here for 23 years and have found that "WE" do alot of complaining, but do not get together for a change. You the voter voted for the tax increase. (Not I by the way). And now you want to blame "them". I wish someone complained, then gave their opinion on how to specifically change this problem. No we just complain.....what a shame, buying my time to move from Brick....
bob July 19, 2011 at 03:46 PM
You all made your bed now sleep in it.... You voted yes to raise our taxes because our wonderful politicians scared you into thinking that there will be less cops, more crime and OMG no one to pick up your garbage!!! Then you all voted no to the school budget......
Denise July 19, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Reelection scam as usual!!! Does anyone know where all the lottery money goes? I thought it was supposed to be to the Seniors and to Education!! I have thought for a very long time that this should be thoroughly invesitagated. Brick schools are in dire need of repairs. What a shame for our kids.
Vince Latchford July 19, 2011 at 05:18 PM
Please excuse me if this is a duplicate message. I'm a novice at this. Then the older brother got his credit card bill and found out that his income was about half as much as he needed to pay his bills. He tried to sell his house but there were no buyers, so he was forced to abandon it and move into his brother's basement, where the added body heat kept them warm. When he complained to his brother about the unfairness of it all, his brother replied "| could afford a barbecue".
Koi Keeper July 19, 2011 at 05:48 PM
And why couldn't he sell his house?????
joyce July 19, 2011 at 06:45 PM
Contrary to what is being said here, this board has allocated more money in capital improvments than any other board in 20 years. This was an opportunity to five a little back to the residents who give so generously to fund our schools, maybe now that this insightful board has done this small token, future budgets will pass. I think putting over 6 million in capital projects for one year is very responsible. More than any other board can say. Don't condem this board until you have to sit intheir seats. It's very easy for Mrs. Terebush and Mr. Cuppari to criticize, aren't they the ones who votedd out middle school sports last year? So much for "caring about the kids". Who is playing politics? Mrs. Terebush wants to be re-elected and her running mates, Fischer, Barton and Reinhold will do anything to desperately be there with her.
KMC July 19, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Schools need to be repaired. Books need to be bought. Supplies are needed. It has nothing to do with Middle School sports. It's very nice that we are getting a tax relief. However down the line you will have to pay for all that needs to be done to the schools. So this extra money would have helped. I am grateful that both my kids did well in Brick. I am so happy though that they have graduated. This Board of Ed. wants you to believe that they are doing the right thing. But for the next 3-4 years, you will not see one repair done. Just curious-does anyone on the board have children in the District any longer? If not, they really don't care about the repairs that need to be done. Otherwise they would have voted for them instead of voting with their alliances.
Denny D July 19, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Mr. Campbell has been on the BOE for a month and is the only one on the BOE not elected by the residents. He's calling the shots? Something is very askew, to say the least.
Watchman July 19, 2011 at 08:07 PM
I find it strange that so many people disagree with the way the board voted but not one of them showed up at last nights meeting to voice their concerns.ALL of the people who spoke were FOR the tax refund.Six million ( $ 6,000,000 ) HAS BEEN ALLOATED for capital improvements ,some already done.Watch for pictures and reports of the projects.It took 25 years of neglect for the schools to get in their present condition,don't expect to fix it in one year unless you are willing to add another $172,000,000 to our tax bill.The people who voted yes and the school administration wanted to spend the money to keep the tax levy inflated by $1.3 million more because of the 2%cap.What have they spent on capital improvements in the last 5 years? What did they put in their original capital budget this year? 000000.
Wartungsmann July 19, 2011 at 08:32 PM
I'm pretty sure most of the voters will not look back on this "generous" $38 of savings when it comes to any future budgets. This "insightful board" has only proven they have no understanding of economics. In addition to returning this pittance to the taxpayers, they have thrown away the additional grant money available by taking this action. Over $2 million dollars of improvements could have been performed on these buildings without costing the township's taxpayers anything more than the very reasonable $55 they were already prepared to pay. This is an example of pure ignorance.
Koi Keeper July 19, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Voice my concerns!? It still would have been a 4-3 vote!
David Fischer July 19, 2011 at 09:12 PM
There are grants that have been approved for renovation work on the Brick schools that the BOE could have taken advantage of. The grants pay, on average, 40% of the cost of the approved renovation. This means that $1.3-million would fund about $2.1-million in renovation work.
Joan July 19, 2011 at 09:29 PM
Some of the schools are in such disrepair with ancient heating systems, a/c that isn't effective besides leaking/ineffective windows. This money would have been an answer to some of those problems. People move into towns where the voters make education a priority, and vote through school budgets. Since this budget went down, and in my opinion because of the way the voting booth was arranged, we really could have done something positive for the schools with this money plus the grant money. $38.00 in my pocket, big deal! This BOE isn't seeing the forest for the trees!
David Fischer July 19, 2011 at 09:43 PM
At the Thursday, July 21st Board of Education Meeting, the Community Facilities Committee will be making a presentation on their proposal to improve our school facilities. All members of the public are invited to attend.
Timothy Kenny July 19, 2011 at 11:39 PM
I wonder if anyone stopped to calculate how much $2.1M would cost each home owner in taxes before deciding to reduce the tax burden by $38?
David Fischer July 19, 2011 at 11:46 PM
The Community Facilities Committee made up of community leaders, parents, senior citizens, and technical experts have served and volunteered their time on behalf of the citizens of Brick since 2007. After years of hard work we will be making a recommendation to the Brick Board of Education to improve our schools. In order to gain the Board of Education’s approval of the projects recommended by the committee, we need the support of, YOU, the public. We are asking for your attendance so that we, the VOTERS, can be given the right to vote on whether or not we want these improvements made to our schools with the help of the State of New Jersey paying 40% of the bill. That’s right! 40% of the total costs will be paid by the state! Come find out more! When: Thursday, July 21, 2011 Where: Brick Township High School Time: 7pm
brickmom July 19, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Mr Fanelli please tell us which board is responsible for allocating the money for the capital improvements of which you speak and when these projects were performed. This CURRENT board has not had a proposed budget!! While you're at it, please tell me the names of ALL the previous board members that were responsible for the neglect of the Brick schools and the conditions they were in. Maybe if we put money into our schools, more people would move here for the quality that once was Brick education, and you could finally stop complaining about your waterfront taxes!!
ZeroHedge July 20, 2011 at 12:02 AM
this is WRONG !!!! the taxpayers on the water are going to get back more than $38 and this is just not fair !
brickmom July 20, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Joyce this board has done NOTHING!! It was the previous board who made the necessary cuts and allocated the money for the capital improvements our schools so desperately need! Please get your facts straight before attempting to belittle a member of the board for speaking out against bad economic policy!!
DH July 20, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Brick Memorial High School ranks 149th in NJ for test scores. Brick High School ranks at 118 in NJ. We also have a massive (and growing) influx of non-English speaking students in the school system which is no doubt taxing resources. This past year I chaperoned a class-trip with my child's class in LRMS and there were several students that did not speak English - and they had to bring an ESL teacher along specifically to translate. So - while I'm sure having air-conditioning in the schools and more efficient heating would be nice for the administrations - I am more concerned about the fact that we have a very low standard of "education" in those schools to begin with. I don't tend to want to contribute money into a system that fails to produce. Show me that you can actually educate these kids, and I will be glad to contribute to your funtions. My own children know that failure is not rewarded. But their educators do not.
Acamedics July 20, 2011 at 01:41 AM
Do you that I had to buy a sweater for each of my kids so they could be warm in the winter at school. That means $38 dollars times 9 in my house, not sure if the referendum has room for all those sweaters.
Acamedics July 20, 2011 at 01:57 AM
What is a fun tion? Maybe you don't donate for funtions? I heard a guy had a barbecue, thats a funtion.
Laraine July 20, 2011 at 11:39 AM
Im taking my big $38.78 savings and running with it. WooHoo!!
jag July 20, 2011 at 11:59 AM
I was under the impression that the Board of Ed's job is to work for the students. If they are so interested in tax relief, perhaps they should run for council.
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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