At Wednesday night's Howell meeting Finance Committee Chairman John Van Noy brought to the board a proposal that he hopes will help township taxpayers in the future.
In a summer when has been a focal point of meetings of not only the but also the , Van Noy presented a proposal to his fellow members at the dais. "Right now it's an idea and I'm studying and trying to learn all aspects of it," he said.
Van Noy's suggestion was that the board look to the New Jersey School Boards Association to help put pressure on legislators in Trenton. "We have an issue as everyone knows with the source of state funds and how they're allocated to the schools," he said. "Clearly, there is a lot of misgivings in the public's eye when they see 60 some-percent, 66 percent of all taxes going to schools and they're paying the whole load."
By working with the statewide school board association Van Noy said he believed they could "be much more proactive and initiate campaigns with legislators to start to look at the process in comparison to other states."
Looking at different states, Van Noy said those with decision-making powers could "substantially reduce the affect on the homeowner themselves which isn't going to change state revenue per say," Van Noy said. "We're talking about how they spend all the revenue that comes into them from taxes and income tax."
Some states, he said, are looking at a system where one-third of the local taxes go to the schools, one-third of the funding comes from the state through "rebates on income tax," and one-third come from sales tax. "We won't be asking the legislature to change what they're doing as far as telling them how to allocate the funding but what we are saying is we need more balance at the local level for all the communities in New Jersey."
As for the resolution he said he hoped to present, Van Noy said, "It's not going to set hard targets for the New Jersey School Boards, but it's going to ask them to seriously start addressing the issue."
Before seeing what the final resolution will look like Board President Tim O'Brien said he was in favor of looking at the concept. "The end game is to have a resolution that instructs New Jersey School Boards to advocate for a reallocation of the funding," he said. "With the intent being to utilize those savings to offset and reduce the general tax levy at the local level."
O'Brien said if they could find a successful solution, "We could really achieve substantive property tax reduction as a goal."
During the discussion of Van Noy's proposal O'Brien suggested bringing in Assemblyman Dave Rible and Senator Robert Singer to get their opinions on possible solutions. Van Noy said he agreed with the idea of bringing in the township's representatives in Trenton.
Board member Mary Cerretani said she did not believe a visit from Rible and Singer was needed. "I think what we're asking is we're asking school boards to do the job that we're paying them to do," she said. "And we're asking our legislators to listen to school boards and now we're asking them to come see us as a school board."
Cerretani said with the state group working at a larger level she believed, "we want the power behind that rather than just our district."
While O'Brien said he understood her concerns he believed hearing from their representatives could be beneficial. "At the end of the day they do represent us and they represent the citizens of this town," he said. "Obviously the general tax levy is something that we can control and we try to cut it but we really need help from Trenton in order to have any real impact on that over the long term."
Superintendent Enid Golden added she hoped they could help bring a resolution to what has been "a topic forever." She added, "Over the years there's always been something that someone is looking at. Maybe Sen. Singer could tell us why they nixed the sales tax or give us some insight into that."
Golden said she believes Rible and Singer have heard similar complaints and suggestions before but hoped they could help by "telling us what the history has been and the pros and cons of each approach."
The board is scheduled to hold one more meeting before the school year starts. It is set for Aug. 29 at 8 p.m.