Board introduces $108M budget for new school year

LAKEWOOD – On April 18, residents will be asked to vote on a general fund tax levy of $62.6 million to support the Board of Education’s $108 million budget for the 2006-07 school year.

The general fund for the coming year totals $78.5 million, according to figures provided by Business Administra-tor Edward Kent.

Debt service on prior capital expenses will total $1.3 million and the tax levy to pay that debt amount will be $1.2 million. Residents will not vote on the debt service tax levy, which is an obligation the board must pay.

After appropriating $1.1 million from surplus (i.e. savings) to help fund the 2005-06 budget which totals $103.1 million, the board will not appropriate any money from its surplus account into the 2006-07 budget.

Kent said the district’s surplus account totals $6.55. He said the entire surplus is being saved for any emergency that may arise.

In the 2005-06 budget, the general fund was $73.7 million and the debt service was $1.4 million. The tax levy to support the general fund was $56.5 million and the tax levy to support the debt service was $1.3 million.

This year, property owners will have to come up with an additional $6.1 million to help pay for the operation of the school district. Taxpayers will save $100,000 on debt service.

The board introduced and adopted a tentative budget on March 9. It has been forwarded to the Ocean County superintendent of schools, which is an office of the state Department of Educa-tion, for review.

Kent said the 2006-07 budget is “well within the limits” of a state law known as S-1701 that establishes limits on the amount of money a school district may spend.

The board will hold a public hearing on the budget on March 30, following a regular meeting that will begin at 6 p.m. The final budget for 2006-07 will be adopted at that time. Figures presented in the tentative budget can be changed up through the adoption of the final budget.

Kent said no information about the school district tax rate and how that rate will affect taxpayers was available upon the adoption of the tentative budget. Tax information may be available at the public hearing in two weeks, he said.

School taxes are one part of a property owner’s tax bill. The property tax bill also includes municipal taxes, Ocean County taxes and other assessments.

– Mark Rosman