Story and photo by Liz Sheehan |
SEA BRIGHT – A Town Hall meeting will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 4, to give residents a chance to ask questions in the borough’s continuing battle to lower education costs.
The town expects to pay $107,000 per pupil to send 31 borough students to Shore Regional High School, according to a letter mailed to property owners with their tax bills.
Property owners were asked to sign the letter and send it to Gov. Christie, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, state senators Joseph Kyrillos Jr. and Jennifer Beck, and Assembly members Amy Handlin and Declan O’Scanlon Jr. The goal is to enlist their aid in reducing school costs by revisiting the school funding formula.
The letter thanks the legislators “for your time and any efforts you take to reform our school funding system and alleviate the crushing blow for Sea Bright taxpayers.”
Included in the tax bill was also a letter signed by Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long and members of the Borough Council giving details about the school tax increase. It stated that a current homeowner with a home assessed at $529,748, saw the school tax portion of their property tax bill increase $710, from $2,304 to $3,014. The letter also stated that based on a series of calculations, Sea Bright’s contribution to the Shore Regional system has risen from $2.1 million in 2016 to $3.3 million in 2017.
The town has filed a suit against Shore Regional, petitioning to have a referendum that could change the formula for how the towns in the regional district – Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport and West Long Branch – fund the school.
Previously the costs were tied to the number of students in the school, but that was changed by the State Legislature to computing the cost to each town by the equalized value of its real estate.
Later, the legislature decided to allow regional districts to base the costs to the towns on the number of pupils it sends to the districts.
The petition filed by the borough said existing regional districts could only change the funding formula to pay per pupil “through a public referendum authorized by the existing school district” and seeks a vote on a referendum to return to sending towns paying per student.
Mayor Long said the legal process of seeking a referendum on the issue continues, but it is now too late to get the question on a November ballot.
She said she is attempting to make progress by discussing the issue with the Shore Regional Board of Education, and would prefer to work on the issue “with neighbors rather than litigation.”
“Hope springs eternal,” Long said.
Borough Administrator Joseph Verruni said the attorney who is representing the town in the suit filed against Shore, Vito Gagliardi Jr., will be at the Town Hall meeting, which will begin at 6:30 p.m., to discuss the issue and answer questions. Borough officials will also be present.
Verruni said several other topics will also be discussed at the meeting and residents will be able to ask questions about them, including an update on the construction projects in the town and their financial status.
This article was first published in the Sept. 21-28, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.
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