BRIELLE — The Brielle Board of Education introduced the 2017-2018 school budget at their regularly scheduled meeting on March 15, which calls for a two percent general fund tax levy.
The Board of Education introduced a total operating budget of $14,420,261 for the 2017-2018 school year at the Wednesday, April 15 meeting.
This year’s tentative budget represents a $200,791 increase from last year’s $14,219,470.
The proposed budget calls for 93.57 percent of the budget to be raised through local taxation, or $13,493,824.
The tax levy of 2 percent “is the cap the board of ed can increase the tax levy without a vote from tax payers” according to Business Administrator, Eileen Gorga.
The 2 percent tax levy equates to a $255,177 increase over last year.
According to Ms. Gorga, roughly $181,000 of that levy increase will pay for BES students tuition when they graduate to Manasquan High School. An additional $88,250 is the tuition adjustment owed to Manasquan High School, leaving $14,073 that will be covered using the school’s maintenance reserve.
Despite being at the cap in the tax levy and increasing its budget $255,177, the school will still be taking $326,063 from the maintenance reserve to pay for services and projects.
Among these projects, according to Ms. Gorga, is further window and door replacements, renovations to the gym locker rooms, and concrete sidewalks because “the non-glamorous things are to make us more safe.”
The surplus account is a result of $629,200 in the maintenance reserve and $1 in capital reserve with no other reserve accounts, pending a general fund transfer to the 2017-2018 tentative budget of $326,000.
The school will be receiving $440,399 from the state, a flat fee reflected from last year’s budget in accordance with the state budget under Gov. Chris Christie.
Eliot Colon, President of Board, expressed his satisfaction with the 2017-2018 budget.
“Overall I am very pleased in how the Brielle Board of Education and Administration juggled many unforeseen expenditures and came out with a budget that stayed true to fiscal responsibly and within the state mandated 2% cap,” he said.
The tax levy does not include debt service, which currently amounts to $479,800 in the anticipated budget.
Ms. Gorga explained that the largest appropriations for the school are tuition, teachers, and benefits.
Benefits such as healthcare, vision, and dental, amount to “over $1 million” with teachers, “our greatest resource,” and all staff numbering “about $5 million.”
$3.467 million is spent on out of district tuition. This includes Manasquan High School, special needs accommodations, vocational and trade school tuition.
“I had to make sure I had a very sharp pencil,” said Ms. Gorga. “I have a very limited budget and very limited resources to work with.”
Mr. Colon explained, “Some of the unexpected expenditures include a 12% increase in health insurance, which amounts to a $125,000 annual increase, a $181,000 annual increase in sending district cost to Manasquan High School, for Brielle students who attend MHS.
“In addition we were hit with a $280,000 tuition adjustment for prior years’ tuition payments. To pay for all of these unexpected increases we had to pull $326,000 from our maintenance reserve which was initially earmarked for a roof replacement project. We will be challenged in the next few years to replace this maintenance reserve fund so we can schedule the roof replacement project which was initially scheduled for 2021, only a short 4 years from now.”