Cherry Hill Schools adopts 2013–2014 budget

Cherry Hill Public Schools adopted the final 2013–2014 budget on Thursday, March 21 in a special meeting.

Despite worries of staff and program cuts early on in the process, aside from the decision to remove a business office position that was already being vacated by the employee, there were no losses in the district.

“When this process began, we weren’t sure how ugly it would be,” Board President Kathy Judge said.

A spending freeze was then enacted to place $628,000 of projects on hold until June, successfully avoiding any cuts.

“I am very grateful and appreciative that we did not have to do that again this year,” Judge said.

The $173,991,752 preliminary budget had been approved by Camden County. Now, the final adoption will be sent back to the county for approval to end the process, Business Administrator Jim Devereaux said.

There is a 2 percent increase in the tax levy, though actual increases or decreases will depend on individual homes per the recent reassessment. The increase gives the district nearly $3 million more in revenue, Devereaux said.

“The change in the local levy, the school levy has grown 5.8 percent since 2008–2009,” he said.

The estimated school tax rate is $2.035 per $100 of assessed value.

In the board’s presentation during the public hearing, it was suggested that to calculate the tax impact, divide the home’s assessed value by $100, then multiple that number by $2.035.

The new average assessed home in the township is $223,500, making for a school tax bill of $4,548. At the previous average of $140,000, owners paid $4,766, making for an estimated savings of $30,000 to township taxpayers.

“You would really see this number if you look at your final year tax bill,” he said. “It is based on the calendar year.”

Since the district stayed within the state mandated cap, there is no public vote on the budget.

Funds from this year’s budget have been carried over in the amount of $4.8 million. In all, there is a 1.6 percent increase in the budget, which is different from the tax levy, he said.

State aid remained flat at $12.7 million, which is less than 80 percent of the 2008–2009 aid of $16 million.

“It has stabilized,” Devereaux said.

Visit http://www.cherryhill.k12.nj.us for the full budget presentation with numerical breakdowns.