Monday, April 19, 2010

$22M School Tax Levy on Ballot

Voters on Tuesday may reject a 10 percent increase in the school tax levy, from $19,862,563 last year to $21,848,819 this year. If that happens, the budget will go to the governing body, but under terms of the School Funding Reform Act of 2008, state Commissioner of Education Bret Schundler must restore any cuts made by the City Council.

From 1992 to 2007, the local tax levy was always the same: $17,683,906.

The new legislation meant the district had to increase the school tax levy for 2008-09 by 4 percent as a start toward taxpayers shouldering more of the burden of school costs. Previously, Plainfielders paid about 20 percent of school costs and the state paid 80 percent.

From previous Plaintalker posts:

March 11, 2008
The $5 million shortfall is due to a state mandate that Plainfield, one of 31 needy Abbott districts, must begin to pay its “fair share” of property taxes toward school costs. The district has paid only $17,683,906 annually in local school taxes since 1992, even as state aid increased to $99 million. In most suburban districts, the proportions are opposite, with property owners paying most of school costs.
For 2008-09, the state is requiring Plainfield to increase the local tax levy by 4 percent, to $18,391,262, as a step toward contributing about $33 million for a fair share.

May 4, 2009
State Education Commissioner Lucille Davy met with the City Council Monday to discuss the council's role now that voters have rejected the 2009-2010 school budget.

The bottom line: The council can attempt to study the budget and make cuts, but Davy is statutorily obligated to restore them to the amount of the mandated local school tax levy that appeared on the ballot on April 21, namely $19,862,563.

Polls are open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Voters will also choose board members to serve three three-year terms and one unexpired one-year term. Look at your ballot ahead of time to study the 14 choices. You may review Plainfield League of Women Voters questions and candidates' responses here.

--Bernice Paglia


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