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Moorestown residents to see school tax increase in 2020-2021 budget

While the COVID-19 pandemic has turned much of life upside down, at least one facet of the Moorestown Board of Education’s meeting was business as usual.

At its April 28 virtual meeting, the board adopted a 2020-2021 budget that includes a school tax increase. 

During the session,  Business Administrator/Board Secretary James M. Heiser walked meeting participants through the increase. As adopted, the 2020-2021 budget includes a $124.53 school tax increase for the average assessed home valued at $454,032.

Under the 2019-2020 budget, residents with an average assessed home paid $7,729.87 in annual school taxes, while under the 2020-2021 budget, they’ll pay approximately $7,854.40.  The total budget is $75.7 million, with $65.7 million to be raised through taxation. Heiser said the district is also utilizing its banked cap funds and has taken an enrollment adjustment due to increases in students during the last six years. Moorestown Township Public Schools will also see an increase in state aid of $351,641 in the coming year. 

Still, revenues are down approximately $144,000, according to Heiser. The losses were anticipated, however, and are largely attributable to a tuition program that is coming to an end. Heiser said the district has received tuition students from another school system, but with that district starting its own program, Cherry Hill schools will no longer house those students.

An increase in salaries also came into play during the budgetary process. Under the 2020-2021 budget, salaries increased by $714,962. Heiser said medical increases came in higher than  anticipated, with benefits accounting for an increase of $390,971.

The district’s four main sources of revenue are the tax levy; state aid; budgeted fund balance;  and an “other” category that includes the likes of tuition, facility rentals, shared services and other sources. Heiser said that in 2013, the district brought in around $800,000 in “other” revenues, but under this budget, “other” revenues will come in around $3.1 million. 

A pay to play fee for sports and extracurricular activities and parking fees will be rolled out for the first time and are factored into the “other” category. Superintendent Scott McCartney said the district is examining what those fees will look like and will explain them to parents in the near future. 

Prior to voting, board member David A. Weinstein expressed concerns about the district’s “other” revenues in light of the COVID-19 shutdowns.

“Given the fact that we’re relying on about $3.1 million on [revenue generation], how comfortable are you on that at this point?” he asked.

“It’s a really good question; I’m losing sleep over it, for sure,” Heiser answered. 

He said the district has a bit of a buffer, given it never budgeted expecting 100 percent revenue generation. But the district is headed into the months where it relies on facility rentals.

“It could very well change our approach for the [2020-2021] school year,” Heiser said.

The budget was ultimately approved with eight yes votes and a no vote from board member Mark Villanueva. 


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