School bond and tax elections in New Jersey
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- 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. This election happens during the annual school election in April. In 2009, 73 percent of New Jersey school districts approved their budgets. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Conduct of the bond election, limitations, rules
Authority conducting elections
All elections are conducted by a County Election Commission.
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.
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. 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. A minimum of thirty days must elapse before any construction election can occur, once a district receives approval from the State Commissioner of Education.  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.
|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
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%|
- Voting on school bond and tax measures
- Where to find information about local school bond and tax elections
- School bond election
- Approval rates of local school bond and tax elections
- New Jersey Department of Education
- New Jersey School Boards Association
- New Jersey School Boards Association election database
- ↑ "New Jersey Legislature" New Jersey School Budget Law(Referenced Statute 18A:13-17)
- ↑ "New Jersey School Boards Association" Voters Approve 73% of School Budget Proposals, April 23, 2009
- ↑ "New Jersey Legislature" New Jersey School Budget Law(Referenced Statute 18A:13-19)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 "New Jersey Legislature" New Jersey School Bond Law(Referenced Statute New Jersey Permanent Statutes 34:1B-7.24)
- ↑ "New Jersey Legislature" New Jersey School Bond Law(Referenced Statute New Jersey Permanent Statutes 34:1B-7.23)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 "New Jersey Legislature" New Jersey Levy Limitation Law(Referenced Statute New Jersey Permanent Statutes 18A:7F39)
- ↑ "Onecle" New Jersey Election Law(New Jersey Statute 19:3-6)
- ↑ "Onecle" New Jersey Education Law(New Jersey Statutes 18-A:7F-42)
- ↑ [http://law.onecle.com/new-jersey/18a-education/8-14.html "Onecle" New Jersey Election Law(New Jersey Statutes 18-A:8-14)