Our View

Budget review bogged down

Our View Budget review bogged down

Getting the elected municipal officials of the eight towns that make up the Freehold Regional High School District to agree on cuts to the district’s 2003-04 budget proved to be an impossible task.

Because of that failure, the district’s budget — which was defeated by voters in the April election — will now be reviewed by the Monmouth County superintendent of schools and the state Department of Education.

It is impossible to say where state officials will order budget cuts to be made, but as Superin-tendent of Schools James Wasser pointed out, the decision is now out of the hands of the people who run the district and out of the hands of local representatives.

It’s easy to see how the district got to this point. The FRHSD administrators and the Board of Education members are obviously wedded to the $135 million spending plan they put before voters last month. The superintendent maintains that the budget contains the expenditures necessary to operate the district at the level which residents are accustomed to.

Municipal officials, in some cases, said they were reacting to the will of the people in attempting to keep property tax increases to a minimum. The municipal governing bodies in six towns agreed on a budget cut of $937,000. Officials in Howell and Colts Neck did not reach that same conclusion.

This system of deciding how to cut a defeated budget is far from perfect, but it is the one that FRHSD administrators, parents and students have to live with. Those constituencies are hoping to maintain what they have in the district’s educational program, while taxpayers are hoping for a little relief. In the end, both sides may be left unsatisfied when the state commissioner rules on the 2003-04 spending plan.