Jamesburg trims school spending plan

Budget cuts total more than $47,000.

By: Nick D’Amore
   JAMESBURG — The Board of Education approved a reworked 2002-2003 budget last week.
   The plan, rejected by voters in April, is $47,000 smaller than originally proposed because of cuts mandated by the Borough Council. The board approved the changes May 16.
   According to state law, when a school budget is defeated, it is turned over to the municipal government for review, either to make a reduction, an increase or leave it as is.
   State law dictates that the council makes the dollar-amount cuts and the board decides where the cuts are made.
   The council decided May 8 to cut $47,162 from the district’s budget.
   Business Administrator Thomas Reynolds said the borough will be taking over sewer and landscaping costs of the district for a savings of $14,000.
   Mr. Reynolds said cuts were made in other administrative areas, but that no school programs were impacted. The rest of the cuts totaled $33,162, reducing its total budget by $47,162.
   The original school budget of $9.5 million was defeated by voters April 16, by a vote of 164 to 111, with less than 10 percent of registered voters going to the polls.
   With the reduction, the tax rate will increase by 37.6 cents to $2.25 per $100 of assessed valuation. Under that rate, the owner of a home valued at the borough average of $122,000 will now pay $2,745 in school taxes.
   The current tax rate is $1.90 per $100 of assessed valuation, with the owner of a home assessed at the borough average of $122,000 paying $2,318 in school taxes.
   Originally, the 2002-2003 budget had called for a 39.6-cent increase, which would have raised the school tax rate to $2.296 per $100 of assessed valuation. Under the original budget, the owner of a home assessed at the borough average would have paid $2,801 in school taxes.
   Board President Don Peterson said the process of reworking the budget went well.
   "I was very pleased with process. The council and mayor were very cooperative and very easy to work with," he said.
   Mr. Peterson said, though making cuts in the budget are tough, the district was able to keep its programs intact.
   "With our budget, it’s lean to begin with and it’s always difficult to take money out. The cuts are not that substantial that we negatively affected the educational programming," he said.