SEA BRIGHT: After being saddled with a larger than expected school tax increase in 2014 borough officials are looking for relief from the state and could consider taking steps to leave the Shore Regional High School District.
Sea Bright is one of four towns that sends it students to Shore Regional, along with Monmouth Beach, Oceanport and West Long Branch.
It would take a majority vote on a referendum question from residents of those four towns to allow Sea Bright to leave the district and seek alternative schooling.
The latest tax bill went up nearly 10 percent thanks to a large increase in the Sea Bright’s share of the Shore Regional tax bill.
“There was an unanticipated $800,000 increase in our Shore Regional tax levy, it was not covered in the budget presentation that Shore gave to us and so frankly when the county certified it and the tax bills came out, it was a shock to us as much as it was to the residents who received those bills,” Mayor Dina Long said. “We have to do something about it, it’s something we are going to be addressing.”
Long said the borough is planning on contacting Trenton to see if they can schedule a hearing to see if any relief is possible. She said as high as the tax increase was, it could have been worse if Shore Regional had not received a loan this year.
“Shore Regional had the benefit of applying a community disaster loan to the school budget again this year, so I am afraid to say, without that subsidy our tax increase would have been double what it is now,” Long said.
Councilman William Keeler said the issue with borough’s portion of the Shore Regional tax bill has been an issue since he first came on council 25 years ago.
“It was a subject then and it hasn’t changed,” Keeler said. “Our tax for Shore Regional was that high when we didn’t have as much development in Sea Bright. There’s a flaw in the T&E (thorough and efficient education law) formula and I think we have to go back and try again.”
Councilman Marc Leckstein said legislation at state level is needed to change the percentage of Sea Bright’s tax bill to Shore Regional.
Long said the possibility of Sea Bright leaving the Shore Regional School District could be a possibility.
“Because we are a member of the Shore Regional School District, in order for us to leave it has to pass a referendum,” Long said. “Now clearly the numbers here vs. the numbers in all the other towns…stack the deck against us.”
“It’s not easy, but I’m just as energized as I was when I was a council member when we tried to have a referendum, we’ve been talking about it as council members to come up with a strategy on how we want to approach this but clearly we’re going to be taking a delegation down to Trenton,” Long added.