Budget pro will review $121M plan

BY JOYCE BLAY Staff Writer

Staff Writer

JACKSON — Municipal officials have hired school budget specialist Frank Marlow of Huntington, N.Y., to review the $121.1 million budget that voters defeated on April 19, according to Committeeman Mark Seda.

The Board of Education placed the budget for the 2005-06 school year before the township’s voters. The budget proposed an increase in the school tax rate of 12.55 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $200,000 would have paid $251 more in school taxes in 2005-06 than in 2004-05.

Marlow will help municipal officials look for a way to trim spending and lower the impending tax increase.

“The [township] administrator decided to hire Dr. Marlow two days after the budget was defeated since he takes [a limited number of districts as clients],” Seda said on May 10. “I thought it was a good idea based on the present time frame.”

Seda and Committeeman Sean Giblin are members of the subcommit-tee that is working with school district administrators and Marlow to review the defeated budget.

Township Administrator Andrew J. Salerno said on May 10 that Marlow was being paid $150 per hour up to a maximum of $8,500.

Seda said he considered the cost for Marlow’s services to be a good investment.

“I thought we would be better served with his input,” the committeeman said.

Seda said he and Giblin were scheduled to meet with Marlow on May 11 to go over his recommendations and would meet with members of the school board sometime next week.

Since the budget must be sent to the county and certified by May 19, Seda said a special Township Committee meeting would have to be scheduled to vote on the revised budget.

“I’d rather the special meeting be held sooner rather than later, but it will depend on everybody’s schedule,” he said.

Seda said that in discussing a reduction of the school budget, his concern was for the taxpayers as well as the children of Jackson.

“The Board [of Education] sees it differently and budgets what they want,” he said. “I think we should look at that. People are losing jobs and it’s difficult to make ends meet. We have to make sure that the end users — the kids — get the funding, [and that the money doesn’t go to] administrative costs and assistant principals. Either way, we need to look at the overall budget and see where we sit with it.”

The Township Committee has the option to leave the budget as the board proposed it or to recommend an amount to be cut from the spending plan.

The school board can accept the recommended amount and determine where to make the cuts or appeal the committee’s recommendation to the commissioner of education.