High Point Regional plans $24 million budget

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:19

    Teacher salaries still not decided SUSSEX n High Point Regional School District has assembled a proposed $24 million budget which represents a tax decrease for residents of Branchville Borough, Lafayette Township and Sussex Borough and an increase for residents of Frankford and Wantage townships. Budget details were presented by High Point Business Administrator Linda Alvarez at the April 7 Sussex Borough Council meeting. Wantage Township residents would see their calendar year tax rate increase by 6.04 percent or $89.14 for an average home that’s assessed at $322,500. Frankford Township residents would see their school taxes increase by 3.23 percent or $51.99 for a typical property that’s assessed at $342,241. Meanwhile, Sussex Borough residents would see the biggest decrease with an 8.17 percent drop in their tax rates, or $88.02 for an average property assessed at $115,700. Lafayette Township residents would see a 2.97 percent drop in their tax rate, reflecting a $58.33 drop in taxes against an average property assessed at $420,843. Branchville residents would see the smallest tax decrease with a 1.94 percent reduction or $34.87 shaved off their taxes against property values assessed at $294,489. In February, both the Sussex Borough Council and the Wantage Township Committee sent letters to the school boards at both High Point Regional and Sussex-Wantage School District imploring them to keep a lid on teacher salary increases in contract negotiations between the respective teachers’ unions. Following Alvarez’s April 7 budget presentation at Sussex Borough Hall, Sussex Councilman James Fransen asked Alvarez if the district had attempted to hold down teacher salaries in its contract negotiations, which are continuing. Alvarez said the letters and the 2.6 percent rate cap proposed by the Sussex Borough Council was shot down when presented to the teachers’ union. “So you’re asking us (residents) to vote on a budget without knowing the teachers’ union salary increases?” Fransen asked. Alvarez added that the school district was looking at various ways to pare its costs, including a possible plan to operate a tiered bus system to pick up elementary, middle school and high school students using the same buses. Alvarez didn’t say when the district expected to make a decision on the bus routes. Residents of the five towns will vote on the school district budget on April 21.