School bond and tax elections in New Jersey

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School bond and tax elections in New Jersey are held under three different circumstances:
  • To approve a school district's annual budget which is mandated for all districts.
  • To issue bonds for new construction and capital improvements.
  • If a school district has an excess levy.

Laws affecting school finance

New Jersey school budget law

Under New Jersey law, all school districts are required to put a ballot question up for a vote to get approval of a school district's operating budget for the year.[1] This election happens during the annual school election in April. In 2009, 73 percent of New Jersey school districts approved their budgets.[2] If a school district fails its budget election, then the school board must re-convene two days after the election. The school district has until May 19th to approve a new budget that would be approved by the voters during the next regularly scheduled school election.[3]

New Jersey bond issue law

Under New Jersey law, a ballot question is required if any school district seeks to issue new bonds for capital improvements for improving existing facilities or to build new facilities. Under New Jersey law, there are two funds for education-related bonds being issued; the main fund is the New Jersey Public Schools Loan Assistance Fund. The law which was approved by the New Jersey Legislature and former Governor James Florio in 1993 is considered the main levy fund.[4]

Under the Public Schools Loan Assistance Fund, school districts upon voter approval seek bonds to be used for renovations, capital improvements, and new construction. Under New Jersey law, school districts are charged anywhere from a minimum of twenty-five to a maximum of fifty percent interest. The New Jersey Legislature is required to have $105 million on hand at minimum to guarantee bonding for school districts at all times.[4]

Another loan fund that issues bonds to school districts that requires voter approval is the New Jersey Public Schools Code Compliance Loan Fund. This separate fund that was approved in 1993 at the same time the New Jersey Public Schools Loan Assistance Fund by the New Jersey Legislature and former Governor James Florio. This fund is designed for school districts that need to renovate older buildings in order to be compliant with state and federal laws on school buildings. This includes asbestos removal, replacing HVAC equipment, or any other purpose to be compliant with state and federal health regulations.[5]

New Jersey levy limitation law

Under the law the levy limitation is calculated by including the sum of the previous year's adjusted tax levy and the adjustment for increases in enrollment multiplied by four percent. Then the result takes in adjustments for a reduction in total unrestricted State aid from the previous budget year and the yearly increase in health care costs. Recent changes to the formula include beginning in the 2008-2009 school year an addition of funds waived by the State Commissioner of Education against the formula. Beginning in 2011, school districts must add normal and adjusted pension liabilities to their levy limit. The current formula was passed in 1997 by the New Jersey Legislature. The commissioner Waiver provision to the law was passed in 2007. Governor Jon Corzine and the New Jersey Legislature approved the Pension Liability addition provision in 2009.[6]

In New Jersey, the Commissioner of Education must require any request from a school district to exceed the levy limitation. If a school district cannot get the Commissioner's approval, then they can use the Commissioner Waiver provision in the New Jersey levy limitation law to put a ballot question for voter approval.[6]

Under New Jersey law, school districts are limited on how they can use the levy extension for these reasons:

  • If a school district is ruled to not meet standards under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
  • Energy cost increases over the pre-budget year in excess of four percent.
  • Capital outlay increases, less any withdrawals from the capital reserve account over the pre-budget year in excess of four percent.
  • The appropriation of non-recurring general fund revenues in the pre-budget year original budget, including the appropriation of surplus.
  • Increases in insurance costs over the pre-budget year in excess of four percent.
  • Increases in transportation costs required to service hazardous routes over the pre-budget year in excess of four percent.
  • Increases in special education costs that exceed $40,000 per each special education pupil over the pre-budget year in excess of four percent.
  • Incremental increases in costs associated with opening a new school facility in the budget year.[6]

Conduct of the bond election, limitations, rules

Authority conducting elections

All elections are conducted by a County Election Commission.

Election dates

New Jersey school districts are barred under state law from holding special elections. School districts can only hold elections on ballot questions on dates specified by law. These dates are the final Tuesday in September, the second Tuesday in December, the fourth Tuesday in January, the second Tuesday in March, and the Annual School Election on the third Tuesday in April.

Needed majority

For a ballot question involving exceeding limits under the levy limitation law, a three-fifths (60%) super-majority vote is required for passage. For bond issues and to approve the annual school district budget, a simple majority is only required.

Wording of measures

Under New Jersey law, any ballot questions shall be presented in simple language that can be easily understood by the voter.[7] There is no ballot format requirement, for example if a question should end in yes or no, placement on the ballot, or what color paper a ballot question needs to be on.

Required notice of bond election

Under New Jersey law, if a levy limit election is needed, a 60 day emergency order from the State Department of Education must be instituted before any levy election can take place.[8] A minimum of thirty days must elapse before any construction election can occur, once a district receives approval from the State Commissioner of Education.[9] School districts must seek approval from the State before conducting any Election.

Budget election pass rates

The following are success rates of school district budget elections in New Jersey.

Year Pass Rate
1976 44.4%
1977 80.4%
1978 82.4%
1979 76.9%
1980 70.1%
1981 63.8%
1982 67.9%
1983 74.8%
1984 76.9%
1985 86.5%
1986 82.4%
1987 74.1%
1988 71.3%
1989 62.1%
1990 52%
1991 55.9%
1992 73.4%
1993 68.9%
1994 51.4%
1995 72.3%
1996 67.8%
1997 76.2%
1998 74.4%
1999 82.8%
2000 88%
2001 81.3%
2002 65.4%
2003 62.2%
2004 69.8%
2005 70.7%
2006 53.4%
2007 78.3%
2008 73.5%
2009 73.3%
2010 41.3%
Source:New Jersey School Boards Association

List of 2010 bond referendums

The following are bond referendums during the 2010 elections. All results are provided courtesy of the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Date District Bond Amount Passed/Failed  % Pass
March 9 Bloomfield Township-Bond Issue $2,914,160 in bonding to replace roof and install solar panels at high school. Failed 52.4% to 47.6%
January 26 Cumberland Regional-Bond Issue $9,960,123 in bonding to replace roof and install solar panels at high school. Passed 72.8% to 27.2%
January 26 Edison Township-Proposition 1 Issue $137,068,139 in bonding for renovations to 13 schools. Failed 67% to 33%
January 26 Edison Township-Proposition 2 Issue $29,775,888 in bonding to build a new elementary school. Failed 71.6% to 28.4%
January 26 High Point Township-Bond Issue $13,056,877 in bonding for renovations to roofs, windows and doors, labs, athletic facilities (including artificial turf, electrical/security and HVAC systems Failed 59.5% to 40.5%
January 26 Jackson Township-Proposition 1 Issue $7,043,750 in bonding to install solar panels at the high school Failed 55.4% to 44.5%
January 26 Jackson Township-Proposition 2 Issue $11,925,000 in bonding for renovations to information technology and/or security systems in 10 schools. Failed 59.7% to 40.2%
January 26 Jackson Township-Proposition 3 Issue $6,700,000 in bonding for replacement to heating/ventilation/air conditioning systems at high school Failed 58.2% to 41.8%
January 26 Jackson Township-Proposition 4 Issue $3,790,230 in bonding to install an irrigation system at high school. Failed 75.1% to 25.9%
January 26 Knowlton Township-Bond Issue $7,164,523 in new bonding for addition and renovations to the elementary school Failed 58.6% to 41.4%
March 9 Lumbertown Township-Bond Issue $9,499 million in bonding to build solar panels at four schools Passed 72% to 28%
April 20 Madison To exceed the state-mandated levy limit.(3/5 Supermajority Required) Failed 58.6% to 41.4%
April 20 Medford Lakes To exceed the state-mandated levy limit by $5.18 million.-(3/5 Supermajority Required) Failed 51.9% to 48.1%
January 26 Montague Township-Bond Issue $395,125 in new bonding for partial roof replacement and repairs at elementary school Passed 78.2% to 21.8%
January 26 Pennasuken Township-Bond Issue $34,665,986 in bonding to demolish an elementary school and construct a new school Failed 65.7% to 34.3%
March 9 Robbinsville Township-Bond Issue $9,385,190 for addition and renovations to elementary school, including installation of solar panels. Failed 61.8% to 38.2%
March 9 Springfield Township-Bond Issue $9,385,190 for addition and renovations to elementary school, including installation of solar panels. Failed
January 26 Washington Borough-Bond Issue $6,924,243 in new bonding for renovations to two schools. Failed 64.2% to 35.8%
March 9 Willingboro Township-Bond Issue $67,357,027 for renovations to eight schools. Passed 53.3% to 46.7%
January 26 Wood Ridge-Proposition 1 Issue $14,922,540 in bonding for additions and renovations, including new classrooms and science labs, boilers, solar panels, and roof repairs. Failed 59.8% to 40.2%
January 26 Wood Ridge-Proposition 2 Issue $10,388,543 in bonding for additions and renovations, including new classrooms, window replacement, electrical upgrades-Contingent if Prop 1 passes Failed 61.6% to 38.4%

List of historical bond referendums

2009

The following are school bond referendums that were held in 2009 in New Jersey. All results are provided by the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Date District Bond Amount Passed/Failed  % Pass
April 21 Atlantic City-Construction Issue $80,321,686 in bonding to build two new elementary schools and to renovate an existing facility Passed
December 8 Berlin Township Issue $6,580,995 in bonding for roof replacement, renovations to HVAC at two schools; roof replacement at administration building Passed
December 8 Bordentown Regional Issue $8,499,975 in bonding for renovations to the high school complex, including solar panels, reconstruction of athletic fields, lighting and other work. Passed
April 21 Butler-Construction Issue $350,885 in bonding to replace bleachers and field improvements at elementary school Failed
September 29th Brick-Special Election #1 Issue $27,920,467 in new bonding for safety and security renovations to schools. Failed 67% to 33%
September 29th Brick-Special Election #2 Issue $41,247,304 in new bonding for energy efficiency renovations to schools. Failed 65.8% to 34.2%
September 29th Brick-Special Election #3 Issue $12,767,119 in new bonding for renovations to primary enrichment and learning center. Failed 70% to 30%
September 29th Brick-Special Election #4 Issue $90,809,018 in new bonding for renovations to high school. Failed 63.2% to 36.8%
September 29th Clayton-Special Election Issue $20,007,138 in new bonding for addition and renovations to middle-high school, renovations to an elementary school Passed
April 21 Clearview Regional Issue $1,303,336 in bonding to renovate elementary school, including repairs to roof, doors, restrooms and floors Passed
December 8 Cranford Issue $19,981,269 in bonding to replace roofs at all schools; replace HVAC systems in three schools and boilers at three other schools. Passed
December 8 Delsea Regional Issue $3,000,000 in bonding to replace roof at middle school. Failed
April 21 Denville-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
September 29 East Brunswick-Special Election Rebuild Memorial Elementary school which was destroyed by fire. Passed 54% to 46%
December 8 Edgewater #1 Issue $28,250,000 in bonding to the George Washington School and construct a new elementary school Passed
December 8 Edgewater #2 Issue $478,400 in bonding to install solar panels at Eleanor Van Gelder School. Passed
December 8 Estell Manor Issue $3,105,636 in bonding for renovations, including HVAC, electrical, and installing a geothermal system. Failed
December 8 Fairfield Township Issue $3,682,665 in bonding for addition and renovations to elementary school Passed
April 21 Frankford Township Issue $3,984,772 in bonding for adding bleachers and field improvements at elementary school Passed 69.5% to 30.5%
September 29 Franklin Lakes-Construction Issue $468,510 in bonding to install solar panels at the middle school Passed
April 21 Galloway Township-Construction Issue $2,366,750 in bonding to build solar energy system for its middle school. Passed
April 21 Green Township-Construction Issue $693,500 in bonding for partial roof replacement at elementary school Passed 52% to 47%
September 29th Hainesport Township-Construction Issue $9,626,087 in new bonding for renovations to the Hainesport School, including roof, fire system, HVAC, windows and doors, various interior upgrades, and removal of hazardous material. Passed
September 29 Hamilton Township-Construction Issue $1,327,900 in bonding for renovations to three schools, including replacement of roofs, doors, bathrooms and boilers. Passed
April 21 Hardyston Township-Construction Issue $1,732,500 in bonding for roof replacement at middle school Passed 66% to 33%
April 21 Hasbrouck Heights-Construction Issue $4,607,781 in bonding to replace roof, windows and generator at middle/high school and replace roof and windows at two elementary schools. Passed 56.6% to 43.4%
December 8 Hasbrouck Heights Issue $4,728,712 in bonding for relocation of main office and several classrooms for security reasons at two elementary schools; replacement of heating systems at two elementary schools, the middle school and high school Failed
April 21 Keyport-Construction Issue $3,900,423 in bonding to repair roof and install solar panels at Central Elementary School and at administrative offices Passed
April 21 Kingsway Regional-Construction Issue $449,600 in bonding to construct an addition for science labs Passed
April 21 Kingsway Regional-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
April 21 Lakehurst Issue $4,754,897 in bonding to renovate elementary school including roofing, HVAC and fire systems. Passed
September 29th Lawrence Township-Special Election Issue $6,549,146 in new bonding for addition and renovations to Myron Powell Elementary School Passed
September 29 Leonia-Construction Issue $20.3 million in bonding for renovations to three schools, including electrical systems, roofs, boilers, and solar panels Passed
December 8 Livingston Township #1 Issue $55,996,572 in bonding to six elementary schools and two middle schools. Passed
December 8 Livingston Township #2 Issue $8,687,905 in bonding to install solar panels and any necessary roof and electrical system renovations at six elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school. Passed
April 21 Long Hill Township-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
April 21 Longport-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
April 21 Lyndhurst-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
September 29th Manchester-Special Election Issue $8,275,621 in new bonding for renovations to five schools and board offices. Passed 63.2% to 36.8%
December 8th Mansfield Township-Construction #1 Issue $639,300 in new bonding for roof replacement at elementary school. Passed
December 8th Mansfield Township-Construction #2 Issue $1,229,424 in new bonding to install solar panels at the elementary school. Passed
April 21 Mainland Regional-Construction-#1 Issue $10,633,685 in bonding to build solar panel roof. Passed
April 21 Mainland Regional-Construction-#2 Issue $29,781,568 in bonding to renovate Mainland Regional High School Passed
April 21 Mainland Regional-Construction-#3 Issue $1.393 million in bonding to install field turf at the high school Failed
April 21 Monroe Township-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
December 8 Montgomery Township Issue $24,350,352 in bonding for renovations to three schools, addition and renovations to one school Passed
April 21 Mt. Holly Township-Construction Issue $34,029,906 in bonding to renovate three schools including roofs, windows, plumbing, electrical, fire safety, HVAC, etc. Failed
September 29 Mt. Holly Township-Construction #1 Issue $24,068,893 in bonding for renovations to three schools including roofs, electrical, fire and HVAC systems. Failed
September 29 Mt. Holly Township-Construction #2 Issue $1,839,229 in bonding for renovations to security systems at three schools Failed
September 29 Mt. Holly Township-Construction #3 Issue $2,938,957 in bonding for renovations to three schools including sidewalks, doors and windows Failed
April 21 Mt.Olive Township-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
September 29 Northfield-Construction Issue $468,510 in bonding to install solar panels at the middle school Passed
April 21 Northern Valley Regional-Construction Issue $3,816,888 in bonding to renovate Demarest and Old Tappan High Schools, including asbestos abatement, roof and other building improvements Passed 55% to 45%
April 21 Northern Burlington County Regional-Construction Issue $3,800,323 in bonding for renovations including including roof repair, HVAC, fire systems and solar panels at high school Passed
September 29th Ocean City-Special Election Issue $8,522,140 in new bonding to replace intermediate school roof and HVAC system Passed 75% to 25%
April 21 Ogdensburg-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
April 21 Oxford-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
September 29 Park Ridge-Construction Issue $10,665,713 in bonding for renovations to three schools, including roofs, windows, doors, boilers and solar panels Passed
September 29th Pitman-Special Election Issue $2,095,125 in new bonding to install solar panels and other energy related improvements. Passed
September 29th Pittsgrove-Special Election Issue $3,996,413 in new bonding for renovations to two schools, including security systems, HVAC, windows, doors, other interior upgrades, and track resurfacing. Passed 68.6% to 31.4%
April 21 Prospect Park-Construction Issue $4,256,717 in bonding to construct an addition for pre-kindergarten, replace boilers and other renovations Passed 50.7% to 49.3%
January 27th Pompton Lakes-#1 Issue $4,041,239 in bonding for boiler replacement and heating/ventilation upgrades at high school. Passed
January 27th Pompton Lakes-#2 Issue $1,257,235 in bonding to replace the roof at the Deane Porter Elementary School. Passed
December 8 Quniton Township Issue $215,698 to install air conditioning to high school auditorium and gymnasium Passed
September 29th Rathway-Special Election Issue $22.8 million in new bonding for additions and renovations to six schools, including new auditoriums, offices and classrooms; upgrades to fire, security, water and electrical systems; and solar panels. Passed 52.9% to 47.1%
December 8th Ridgewood Issue $48,265,314 in bonding to renovate high school, including field improvements; additions and/or renovations to eight other schools, with projecting ranging from new roofs to installation of a new track Passed
April 21st Ringwood-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
April 21st Riverside-Construction-#1 Issue $2,777,938 for renovations including playground, parking and athletic facilities. Failed
April 21st Riverside-Construction-#2 Issue $2,304,714 in bonding for athletic field improvements (Contingent on the passage of Question 1) Failed
September 29th Riverside-Construction-#1 Issue $1,732,969 for renovations including playground, parking and athletic facilities. Failed
September 29th Riverside-Construction-#2 Issue $1,599,683 in bonding for athletic field improvements (Contingent on the passage of Question 1) Failed
January 27th Rumson Issue $1,257,235 in bonding to replace the roof at the Deane Porter Elementary School. Passed
September 29th Shamong Township-Construction Issue $2,560,467 in new bonding for renovations for two schools including solar panels Passed
December 8 Springfield Township Issue $11,083,227 in bonding to renovations including installing solar panels at elementary school Failed
April 21 South Amboy-Levy Exceed limits set by the state's levy limitation law Failed
September 29th South Plainfield-Special Election Issue $13.2 million dollars in new bonding for school renovations and to replace HVAC equipment Failed 70.2% to 29.8%
September 29th Washington Borough-Special Election Issue $6,924,243 in new bonding renovations to two schools, including new unit ventilators. Failed 55.6% to 44.4%
April 21 West Essex Regional-Construction Issue $10.895 million in bonding to replace roof and windows at high school and junior high school, replace boilers at junior high school Passed 57.6 % to 42.3%
December 8 Woodbine Issue $3,682,665 in bonding to install solar panels at elementary school Passed
September 29th Woodland Park-Special Election Issue $8,956,315 in new bonding for additions and/or renovations to three schools, including roofs, playgrounds, parking lots, roofs, HVAC and other interior upgrades Failed 70.2% to 29.8%
April 21 Woodlyne-Construction Issue $7,128,140 million in bonding for additions and renovations to the elementary school Failed 75% to 25%

See also

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References

  1. "New Jersey Legislature" New Jersey School Budget Law(Referenced Statute 18A:13-17)
  2. "New Jersey School Boards Association" Voters Approve 73% of School Budget Proposals, April 23, 2009
  3. "New Jersey Legislature" New Jersey School Budget Law(Referenced Statute 18A:13-19)
  4. 4.0 4.1 "New Jersey Legislature" New Jersey School Bond Law(Referenced Statute New Jersey Permanent Statutes 34:1B-7.24)
  5. "New Jersey Legislature" New Jersey School Bond Law(Referenced Statute New Jersey Permanent Statutes 34:1B-7.23)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "New Jersey Legislature" New Jersey Levy Limitation Law(Referenced Statute New Jersey Permanent Statutes 18A:7F39)
  7. "Onecle" New Jersey Election Law(New Jersey Statute 19:3-6)
  8. "Onecle" New Jersey Education Law(New Jersey Statutes 18-A:7F-42)
  9. [http://law.onecle.com/new-jersey/18a-education/8-14.html "Onecle" New Jersey Election Law(New Jersey Statutes 18-A:8-14)