Tax-weary property owners in Paterson, New Jersey could be inching closer to additional school tax increases for the fourth year in a row. Although not as high as the most recent three tax years, the preliminary projections for the upcoming fiscal year still have taxes rising by 9.75%. Combined, these four years of tax hikes represent a total tax rate increase of 62% – and still not enough to fully address the district’s financial deficits.
One of the major budget lines proposed this year is the hiring of 183 additional teachers to alleviate classroom crowding in Paterson schools. After first seeking $28 million of aid from State Education Department this fall, the district received a denial on the grounds that the capacity exists to raise property taxes to offset costs and budget gaps. The board has since pushed back, questioning the state’s decision and the burden that soaring taxes will put on the community.
Paterson Tax Increase is Expected to Help Budget Shortfalls
Overall, the tax increase is expected to bring in an additional $5.95 million per year, which should help – but not eliminate – budget shortfalls. In fact, budget projections still show a potential maximum deficit of $44 million even with the tax increase. However, this pales in comparison to the budget gaps that reached $70 million just a few short years ago. If approved, the district hopes the tax increase will help preserve programs within the schools and prevent the need for layoffs.
Now that the budget projections and property tax increase proposals have been made public, there is little doubt the news will become a major topic of conversation within the community. Next, the school district must develop a formal budget. They will then bring it before the school board in a public meeting before a final vote is held on the proposal this spring.