Budget to face council scrutiny

JAMESBURG — Proposed plan to face cuts

By: Melissa Morgan
   Many Jamesburg residents had positive thoughts on passing the school budget, but voters threatened by a large tax hike made sure they weren’t outnumbered at the polls.
   Because the budget didn’t pass, additional steps must now be taken to work out a fair plan agreed on by both the Board of Education and the Borough Council.
   New Jersey Department of Education spokesman Richard Vespucci said defeated budgets are put in the hands of municipal governing bodies. The Jamesburg Borough Council will decide how much in local taxes will support the school budget and whether cuts need to be made.
   "They are mindful of what voters decided and they look at things like voter participation before they make a decision," he said.
   After the municipal government decides whether to make cuts, he said, the decision can be appealed by the school board to the state education commissioner, but only under limited conditions.
   "There are two grounds for appeal but neither of them are likely," he said.
   Mr. Vespucci said the grounds for appeal include a reduction in the budget that brings the amount of money spent per student below state requirements for a sound education or if the reduction would interrupt on-going projects or continuous efforts to improve teaching and learning.
   Jamesburg School Business Administrator Tom Reynolds hopes the school board won’t have to appeal. He said the board will present the budget to the Jamesburg Borough Council on Wednesday. A finance committee will review the data and decide whether to keep the budget in tact or make needed cuts.
   Jamesburg Municipal Clerk Gretchen Schauer said a tax point in Jamesburg is equivalent to $23,000.
   "All of our members will be there to present the budget," said Mr. Reynolds. "It is up to the council to decide to keep it in tact or make cuts and where to make those cuts."