We are ONE RUTHERFORD, coming together to support our school system for the students who are educated there, the residents who live in the borough, and the taxpayers who continually invest in the future. This plan focuses on necessary improvements to keep Rutherford’s strength as an outstanding school district, desirable community and competitive housing market.

The Sept. 24 referendum asks voter permission to borrow up to $45,330,478 million, but state aid would reduce the local impact to about $36.3 million. That’s right: Rutherford taxes would contribute about $36.3 million, but the community would get about $45.3 million in school improvements. State funding will be collected and distributed among all school districts where voters approve bond borrowing; this is the only way for Rutherford to get a slice of that pie.

Through its Debt Service Aid program, state funding pays for up to 40% of project costs when they are approved by voters, funded by bond borrowing, and related to educational needs. That state aid makes it financially attractive to pay for certain projects through a bond instead of through the annual operating budget: Instead of paying 100%, local taxes pay as little as 60% of qualified costs.

Additionally, bond borrowing spreads out costs over many years, which can make improvements more affordable the same way a homeowner would borrow for home renovations. The spread-out system means everyone pays at some point, though not necessarily when their own children are enrolled.

What would be the tax impact if voters approve this school improvement plan? School district administration relies on professional consultants to calculate the variety of factors that make up an estimate of property tax impact. Our consultants have started that process with recently approved state documentation, and we expect to have a tax impact estimate by the middle of June.