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Jul 2015

Berkeley Township Central Regional Schools

Berkeley Township Central Regional Schools
Taxes will go up for both Berkeley school districts, although the exact amount remains unclear. The Central Regional School District is appealing a loss in aid that is causing part of the increase, and Berkeley’s figures were not provided by officials at press time.
By Chris Lundy
Central Regional Schools
The total budget will reduce by $328,883, from $34,845,422 to $34,516,539. The tax levy will increase by $3,492,097, from $26,052,630 to $29,544,727.
Central is comprised of five municipalities. They would be affected as so:
   In Berkeley, the tax rate would increase from 38.29 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 42.45 cents. On a home with the township average of $198,400, this would amount to an increase of $82.68 a year.
In Island Heights, the tax rate would decrease from 33.85 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 33.21 cents
In Ocean Gate, the tax rate would increase from 36.25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 36.41 cents.
In Seaside Heights, the tax rate would increase from 26.69 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 38 cents.
In Seaside Park, the tax rate would increase from 37.22 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 42.73 cents.
Central Regional was being helped by a Federal Emergency Management Agency loan after Super Storm Sandy. The storm wiped out millions of dollars worth
of homes. The school district couldn’t tax those homes, and that created a hole in the budget. In the years since Sandy, FEMA money has plugged that hole. It appears that this plug is no longer available.
Knowing that the federal money wasn’t going to make it this year, Central officials applied for a state Community Development Block Grant to soften the blow. They were declined. As of press time, their requests for an appeal have not had a response.
According to a letter from the Division of Local Government Services, which oversees the state grant, Central did not qualify for the money. It read, in part:
“The analysis conducted by FEMA concluded that actual and projected losses attributable to Sandy has been less than the amount awarded to your municipality as a
Community Disaser Loan.”
The letter went on to say that Central might be required to pay back some of the money it was already awarded.
Central officials have reached out to the state to appeal the decision. They have recruited local government officials to help them, Central business administrator
Kevin O’Shea said.
“The State’s response to our appeal was cowardly, unprofessional, and unacceptable,” O’Shea said in a statement. “In not even returning our phone call and e-mail, the state violated their own guidelines, which provided that any entity that was denied the grant would be offered an opportunity for a phone conference to discuss the basis for the denial. It’s still puzzling to me how any state bureaucrat could feel that the residents in our constituent towns were not impacted enough to warrant acceptance into the program. I would like to thank all the public officials of our towns, including (Berkeley Mayor Carmen) Amato and (Seaside Heights Mayor Bill) Akers, as well as our state delegation of (Christopher) Connors, (Brian) Rumpf and (DiAnne) Gove for their efforts to overturn the decision.”
In the plus column, Central has continued its Choice program. This is a high tech high school curriculum available to Central students and students from other schools. The students from other districts have brought in $1,284,467 in tuition.
In Berkeley, the tax rate would increase from 38.29 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 42.45 cents. On a home with the township average of $198,400, this would amount to an increase of $82.68 a year.
Berkeley Township Schools
In the Berkeley Township School District, the overall budget went down, but taxes will increase.
The total budget would decrease by $923,933, from $32,417,459 to $31,493,526.
The amount to be raised in taxes would increase by $365,211, from $26,342,922 to $26,708,133.
District officials did not provide tax rates or details about the budget at press time.