Will the Brick Township school district budget for 2018-17 include a tax increase, or keep the tax levy steady?
School officials say they are working on the annual spending plan now, and have already held approximately 20 meetings with with managers and supervisors to determine “wants and needs” for the next school year.
“Unfortunately, the needs of the district probably outweigh what we can afford to do,” said Interim Superintendent Thomas Gialanella.
Last year, a proposed budget increase of $7.1 million and a tax increase of $5.7 million had to be reduced to a $3.5 million increase after a public outcry. At the time, Gialanella proposed using what is known as a “cap bank” to fund the budget. In basic terms, a cap bank is the difference between how much the district could have legally hiked taxes within the state’s 2 percent cap over the prior three years and how much taxes were actually raised. Since the previous school board passed minimal or zero tax increases, all of the increases that would have been allowed – but weren’t enacted –could have been back-loaded into a single year. To a lesser extent, the same possibility exists this year.
Gialanella did not indicate whether he was looking to recommend another increase this year. Instead, he announced two budget meetings – March 9 and April 6, both open to the public – with a final vote coming in May.
Board President John Lamela, asked directly whether the cap bank would be used to increase taxes in the upcoming budget, said it was too early in the process to determine the details.
“I haven’t had that conversation with Tom [Gialanella],” said Lamela. “It’s early in the process and we’re outlining how we’re going to do things. I haven’t had that discussion so I couldn’t give you that call one way or another.”