The Gloucester Township Public School
Board passed the 2014-2015 budget Monday night by a 6-1 vote, increasing the
local tax levy 4.9%.
The increase is over $3 million from the previous year’s budget.
If not for a little confusion during the discussion, the vote would've been unanimous.
Board Member Dominic Gagliardi was the lone vote against the budget, and Board Member William Fontanez was absent.
Gagliardi said he approved the budget’s details, but thought it was inappropriate to vote for it if the public did not have access to the document.
After the vote, other board members pointed out that the budget was advertised in the Courier Post on April 24. Gagliardi said if he was aware of the advertisement, then we would have made the vote unanimous.
Members of the public also voiced their disapproval of the board approving the budget, stating it was inappropriate of the board to vote for the budget when the public was not aware of what the bills were for.
This gave the board pause, but after a very brief deliberation regarding potentially delaying the voting, they continued their scheduled vote as planned.
About 94% of the budget increase is going towards health benefits of all staff members in the school district, contracted salaries, and instructional supplies.
Board members stated numerous times that the lack of state funds caused the increase to be higher than usual. When there is a lack of state funds, it is the taxpayer's job to deal with the remainder, Superintendent of Schools John Bilodeau said. The state net increase for the 2014-2015 school year is $21,251.
The annual increase for the average home in Gloucester Township assessed at $195,000 will be $43.48, according to Bilodeau.