Gloucester Township Public Schools introduces tentative 2018–2019 budget

A public hearing is scheduled for April 30.

At its latest board of education meeting, Gloucester Township Public Schools approved the tentative 2018–2019 school budget, which will be submitted to the executive county superintendent of schools.

The total tentative budget is $116,771,557, including $112,780,087 of general funds, $2,861,870 of special revenue funds and $1,129,600 of debt service. Last year’s total operating budget was $112,064,774.

However, the budget’s impact on monthly household taxes will not be available until mid-April, according to school business administrator Jean Grubb.

Gloucester Township Public Schools has an authority of a 2 percent tax levy increase over the prior year, which amounts to $964,320, according to the agenda. The total tentative tax levy figure for the 2018–2019 budget is $49,430,311.

In the tax levy figure, the adjustment for health-care costs accounts for $287,902. A 2017–2018 banked cap accounts for $162,098, and the 2017–2018 tax levy accounts for $48,215,991.

The district is receiving $51,917,671 in state aid, which is 1.8 percent more than last year’s $50,988,439.

The 2018–2019 general funds appropriations include $300,000 in the board’s approval Emergency Reserve Fund for future funding of school security. In its total state aid, the district also received $487,009 in security aid, according to the state Department of Education.

The general fund encompassed $289,252 for approved maintenance reserve.

The tentative budget also includes a $1 million deposit into the board’s capital reserve account for future funding of building improvement/projects contained in the district’s five-year long-range facilities plan.

This deposit into the capital reserve, along with a $4.8 million withdraw, will fund the new roof at Ann. A Mullen Middle School. This withdraw is included in the tentative general fund budget.

The board approved the summer project at its March 19 meeting, which received pushback from the community for various reasons. These concerns included the costs of the removal and replacement of the roof’s solar panels, which were installed in 2013. According to the project overview, the removal and replacement of the panels will cost $275,800.

Members of the public questioned this project’s influence in the tax levy figure, as the total budget figure is used to calculate the tax levy.

This $1 million figure is not included in the tax levy figure, according to Superintendent John Bilodeau.

These specific funds come from a prior period of funds that were not used since districts are not allowed to keep money that is leftover. The state software forces that money into the ensuing year’s budget.

“It’s money from a prior period that we are earmarking some of it to go to operations and some of it to go to the capital reserve,” Bilodeau said.

“It’s not new money,” solicitor Daniel Long added. “It’s money we’re carrying over.”

Since some of the money used in the budget is coming from a “savings account,” as described by Bilodeau, taxes are not being increased because money was already raised for these funds in a prior period.

A public hearing is scheduled for April 30 at 7 p.m.