In April, voters approved having the Montville Township Board of Education spend $11.5 million on benefits for employees as part of the overall budget.
Most of that amount—$10.4 million—was for health benefits, the cost of which were jumping 28 percent from the previous year under the district's provider at the time, Horizon.
District officials were thinking, "This is going to kill us," business administrator James Tevis said of the increase.
The district had a consultant solicit proposals from other insurance providers, as the district does every year, and received a better offer from Cigna in May, Tevis said. The district made the necessary notifications and switched in July.
The level of health benefits stayed the same, but the cost increased only 8.5 percent from the previous year instead of 28 percent, representing savings for the year of $1.5 million, Tevis said.
Typically, when renewal increases are "more reasonable, we don't get a lot of competition," he said. "This year, with the 28 percent renewal (from Horizon), Cigna was able to come in and be much more competitive."
So, the district still has $11.5 million budgeted for benefits on its insurance line even though it only expects to spend about $10 million on benefits this year. Officials say the savings would best be spent on a one-time infrastructure project or on equipment because it's not recurring revenue. They also say the best project at this time is an artificial turf field at Montville Township High School, which they project could be completed for about $990,000 with some cost overruns factored in.
They say the field will need to be replaced eventually no matter what voters decide and that installing artificial turf now with available funds will be more cost effective than installing a new grass field. Installing artificial turf would allow for the field to be used far more often, without a need to rest the field or worry about rain. People in the district have talked about installing artificial turf at the high school football field for about a decade, they said. But the district can't spend money from the operating budget on a capital improvement project without first getting voter approval.
The overall budget for the district, including debt service, is about $67.7 million.
Voters will have their say on Sept. 27.
Public Question to Be Voted Upon:
The Board of Education of the Township of Montville in the County of Morris, New Jersey is authorized to transfer 2011-2012 funds in the amount of $990,000.00 from the general operating budget, insurance line, to the capital reserve account to pay for the installation of a turf field at the Montville Township High School.
- Districts 1, 4, 12, 16: , 5 Shawnee Trail, Montville
- Districts 2, 5, 10, 13: , 195 Changebridge Road, Montville
- Districts 3, 6, 8, 17: , 46 Pine Brook Road, Towaco
- Districts 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, 18: , 90 Horseneck Road, Montville
If you don’t know your district, call the municipal clerk’s office at 973-331-3345.
Remaining District Turf Referendum Information Sessions:Date Meeting Type Time Location Sept. 19
Regular Session Board Meeting 8 p.m. Sept. 21 Cedar Hill Home & School Meeting 9 a.m.