School District Approves Budget with No Tax Increase
Haddonfield BOE members call the budget "historic."
The Haddonfield Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved its 2012-2013 budget, which features no tax increase.
State public education funds to the district increased by nearly 200 percent to $845,806, part of a what Trenton called "the largest appropriation of state education dollars in New Jersey history. The district will get $527,007 over the $318,799 it received in the last budget. It received no state money two years ago.
The increase amounts to about $200,000 in additional monies available to the district. Superintendent Richard Perry commented on the historic nature of the windfall and the irony that it occurred in the first year of legislation that eliminates a spring vote on the school budget.
“We are trying to get as much mileage on this as we can,” Perry joked. “When I talk to people about this budget, everyone says they can’t remember a year without a school tax increase. This year it happens, and there is no public vote on the school budget.”
A Haddonfield family with a home assessed at $491,000, the borough average, will continue to pay about $7,000 annually in school taxes.
Haddonfield’s average property tax of $12,088.88 is nearly twice the state average at $7,776, according to the state Department of Community Affairs. Haddonfield has the second highest average property tax bill in Camden County. It trails Tavistock, an exclusive enclave at the tip of Haddonfield, enclosed mostly in an exclusive golf course. Haddonfield's property tax bills are 27 percent higher than Voorhees, $8,777.41, third in the county.
The $32,839,028 budget was presented unchanged from a presentation on March 2, 2012, prior to approval from the Camden County Superintendent’s office. The approved budget includes $50,000 for revamping and renovating the high school library.
“We want to make the library conducive to technology to enable students to take Internet courses and collaborate in teams here,” Perry said.
Also included is a commitment to implement an integrated language arts program for kindergarten to grade five as well as to complete an unfunded state mandate for a teacher evaluation program within the next year.
Special education staffing across the district will benefit along with classroom aides with $141,000 allocated, while capital improvements to buildings, parking lots, ventilation and sewer systems will cost about $317,000. Technology initiatives for the district that include becoming a completely wireless zone accounts for $190,000 in proposed spending.
The budget presents no increases in activities fees or negative impact on staff or programs for the 2012-2013 school year.
Board President Steve Weinstein said the "historic" budget hearing was somewhat unremarkable.
“It is kind of an anti-climatic event, with no requirement for a public referendum and no public vote,” he said.
Weinstein thanked members of the board and public for their involvement in the process.
Perry added, “We are excited about what we are able to do with the additional state aid.”