The Board of Education in Brick introduced a tentative 2019-20 school budget that includes a tax increase of more than $2.9 million – much of it mandated by the state.
The budget is subject to change between now and its final adoption in May, however state figures released last week show Brick losing $2.7 million in state funding for the upcoming year. The same law that cut Brick’s funding also mandated a maximum, 2 percent tax increase for each year over a period of seven years.
The $155,411,897 spending plan will be supported by a $112,085,560 tax levy if it is adopted. Despite the tax increase, school spending is remaining nearly flat. Last year’s final budget was $155,157,423, but was supported by a $109,258,129 tax levy. The total increase in taxes for Brick residents will be $2,901,725.
“The state is mandating an increase,” said Board President Stephanie Wohlrab. “We have to do a 2 percent [increase], minimum.”
The district, in theory could go beyond the 2 percent figure by utilizing funds in its “cap bank.” The “bank,” in basic terms, 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. If the maximum tax increases were not applied in the past, they could be back-loaded in future years. The board authorized up to $756,499 in banked cap to be used toward the 2019-20 budget.
“This is the tentative budget right now because we’re not sure that the state isn’t going to change the numbers again,” said Wohlrab. “It’s a working document.”