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Karcher – Freeholders Need To Step Up To Help Freehold Schools

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Senator Ellen Karcher today charged the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders with putting political contributors ahead of schoolchildren after the Freeholders denied her request for the county to provide payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) to the Freehold Borough School District to help eliminate cuts in this year’s school budget.

“Assemblyman (Mike) Panter and I have written to the Board of Freeholders to request much needed assistance to the Freehold Borough schools,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “The County owns a considerable amount of land in Freehold on which they don’t pay taxes, and we think it’s time they started paying their fair share.”

In her letter to Freeholder Director William Barham, Senator Karcher points out that the school district is facing severe cuts this year, despite increased state aid. Without additional aid, the district will be forced to cut sports and extracurricular programs and dismiss 13 employees, including two librarians, an art teacher, a music teacher, two guidance counselors, a media assistant, three clerical assistants, two custodians, and a math supervisor.

Senator Karcher said that her request on behalf of Freehold Borough was denied because the county didn’t have any surplus funds in their budget to give to the school district.

“The Freeholders are crying ‘poverty’ at the same time they are approving hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost overruns for the Hall of Records to be paid to politically connected contractors,” added Senator Karcher. “It’s time that Freeholder Director Barham reexamined his priorities.”

Senator Karcher noted that Freehold Borough loses more than $500,000 each year in property taxes because county-owned land is tax exempt. She also noted that while the county has provided grants to the borough for items in the past, it has never compensated the school district for its loss.

As part of her effort to secure more funds for the district Senator Karcher joined with about 40 members of the Save Our Schools (SOS) group today at the Assembly Budget Committee hearing to show their support for a new school funding formula that would be fairer to districts like Freehold Borough.

“Freehold Borough is a model of fiscal responsibility, spending less per pupil than any other district in Monmouth County. I only wish that the Freeholders could show the same responsibility and meet their obligation to the children of Freehold,” explained Senator Karcher.

Senator Karcher said that she would continue her work with Assemblyman Panter to explore all possibilities to provide additional funding to the Freehold Borough School District, including further efforts to get the county to begin a PILOT program with the school district.

“This is only the beginning. We will continue working to do right by the children of Freehold Borough,” said Senator Karcher.