Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop says the city’s payroll tax will generate $86 million for the board of education this scholastic year, more than double what the city had initially expected.
“We believe the $86 million, which represents more than twice the amount the payroll tax raised for the schools a year ago, will go a significant way in solving part of the crisis created when the state began making cuts to schools across New Jersey with its reconfiguration of formulas,” Fulop said in a statement.
“However, there is still a lot of hard work to do on our end, and the Board of Ed, when it comes to budget management and dealing with this real crisis now and into the future.”
Three weeks ago, Fulop and Ward D Councilman Michael Yun unveiled a $250 million dollar Jersey City School Funding Action Plan that outlined a steady revenue stream to the school district, while simultaneously saving taxpayers from increased rates.
At that time, the plan estimated that the payroll tax would yield $40 million to the schools in 2020, $10 million in 2021, and $5 million in 2022.
City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said that after the city did some more financial analysis, they were able to up that initial figure to $70 million.
That figure was then again increased to just over $86 million in light of the New Jersey Department of Education announcing that the district would lost $55.3 million this year – around $13 million more than what was anticipated, she explained.
Additionally, Jersey City BOE President Lorenzo Richardson, who made light of the $86,010,956 payroll tax figure at the February 27th board meeting, said the city confirmed that number last night and expressed satisfaction that they were able to work together on this.
“It was a joint effort where we are all well pleased with the outcome. Conversations were ongoing for some time before and after the State released the funding numbers. We have always been proactive with the budget year round and year to year,” he said in an email.
“With this kind of issue to confront, you can never afford to take your focus off the funding. It’s critical to advance student achievement.”
Fulop and Yun’s school funding plan also includes pooling all monies generated through prior tax abatements, which the city has not granted in the last three years, and allocating those funds to the BOE – estimated to provide about $40 million in the next 36 months.
“Since the city adopted the payroll tax in the fall of 2018, our tax department has made an extraordinary effort to collect close to $90 million dollars designated specifically for the school district,” added Yun.
“As they continue to collect these funds on behalf of our children’s education, the Jersey City Municipal Council is continuing our examination of the city budget, seeking areas where there are potential dollar cuts that won’t mean service cuts for our community or to our city workforce.”
About two years ago the state alerted the city that it was cutting more than $170 million from the Jersey City Public Schools, whose student body utilizes over 40 schools.
The cuts have increased with the recent announcement of an adjusted state aid formula where Jersey City saw more funding cut than any other school district two years in a row.
Since 2018, the district will have lost $120 million by the end of the 2020-21 school year.