Can Belleville Board Trim School Tax Bill?
School board budget committee looking for all possible cost savings before unveiling final 2013-14 school budget at March 25 public hearing.
Belleville Board of Education members are meeting twice to try and prevent a tax increase before the public hearing March 25 on the 63.5 million school district budget for the 2013-14 academic year.
School board member Joseph Longo said Tuesday that he and board member Bill Freda are looking to reduce spending in the budget.
Longo said the committee's goal is always to keep taxes from increasing.
"We're trying to keep the tax impact as small as possible," Longo said. "It helps that we got a bump in state aid, but there are still a lot of issues to resolve."
The total state aid for kindergarten through grade 12 in the district for fiscal year 2013 was $25,130,065.
The projected total aid to Belleville in fiscal year 2014 is $25,630,065, or an increase of $500,000, Longo said.
The budget includes increases to improve curriculum and resolve all security issues in all of the schools after the Sandy Hook shootings last December, he said.
"Almost all of our facility issues involve security, from updating phone and security camera systems to general modernization of the buildings," Longo said.
While a very preliminary budget was introduced, Longo said a lot of work remains to be done by the committee.
"It is still all kind of being formulated," he said. "We will have a couple more committee meetings before we bring the budget to the board, and then the public, and there will likely be refinements."
Last year, the board's final 61.3 million 2012-2013 school budget contained zero dollar tax increase for a home assessed at $244,562, the average value of a home in Belleville last March, and was the second year in a row that the average tax bill did not rise.
This year's $63.5 million budget goes before voters April 16 for approval or rejection, and will appear on the ballot during the school board election.
The school board election will be uncontested, with incumbent John Rivera, Lillian Torres, and Raymond Kuebler slated for the three, three-year terms.
Rivera challenged Christine Lamparello’s petition to run and it was later disqualified, according to officials.
The other two incumbents this year, board vice-president Patricia Inaugurato and three-term board trustee Vincent Strumolo chose not to run.