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$990K Artificial Turf Vote Nears

A vote on whether to move amount from the operating budget to the capital reserve account is scheduled for Sept. 27.

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.

  • YES
  • NO

Polling Places:

  • 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.
Carmela Novi September 22, 2011 at 01:06 PM
Steven L. Thank you for your comment. This is not about "all for the kids". From my perspective, a thorough and efficient public school education is a state constitutional guarantee that I expect to be provided for our children in exchange for my tax payer dollars. The h.s. field repairs are needed maintenance and repair project and it is being funded by a savings in health insurance premiums in a budget that was approved by the voters in April. As I have stated elsewhere on this forum, tax relief has been provided for in the 2011-2012 budget, so the various interests of parents and non-parent tax payers was taken into consideration as part of the budget process. The 2011-2012 budget represented a 1.5% increase from last year (below the 2% cap mandated by state law), even though some hard costs increased at a rate that was far above 1.5%. Gym and athletics is part of the academic curriculum, as is art, music, math, science and literature. I don't want a longer school day or year, and frankly, it would cost us much more than $990K to do that. I do expect, however, in exchange for my tax dollars, that the Bd of Ed will provide a thorough education with safe, clean facilities staffed by educators who are well trained. That's what this repair project is about. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Carmela Novi
Carmela Novi September 22, 2011 at 01:23 PM
Steven L. As to your point about the school budget being 70% of your total tax bill, I see your point. Perhaps part of the issue with how high our tax bills are is in part one that needs to be attacked on a different level, i.e., how NJ funds its schools. I do believe that the use of $990K of the $1.5M in savings from the health insurance premiums is a responsible way to fund the repairs of an existing facility, which, if left alone, will only grow worse with time. Please keep in mind that out of this school budget we educate approximately 4300 students and must support, in salaries and benefits, and instructional staff that numbers about 450, to say nothing of meeting unfunded legal mandates imposed by lawmakers. The average cost per student in Montville is comparable to other districts county wide.Having a good educational system supports all of our property values, and that includes properly maintained facilities. I understand your concerns and ask that you review the information on the turf referendum at www.montville.net. I would also like to see you at a Board meeting, so we can discuss all the ways in which the Board of Ed and new school administration has focused on being fiscally responsible, while managing the district in a way that meets the needs of the schoolchildren. Thank you for being part of the dialogue.
mark September 26, 2011 at 01:47 AM
Once again this was suppose to be privately funded so what happened to all those people who said that they would support the turf the valley when push comes to shove they say I am not going to pay let the taxpayers do it It would be nice if we spent the same amount of time about a field on getting jobs for people The BOE liek everyother committee in this town just wants to push things through that will benefit them not the town Again this was a private funding project I want my money back VOTE NO VOTE NO VOTE NO VOTE NO VOTE NO
Josephine T. September 26, 2011 at 09:59 PM
Vote NO. Be cautious when a frivolous project of this type is rushed with carefully edited information presented on websites, meetings, school computers and slick printed literature. Special interest groups and BOE have family on football and band, overlooking obligations for the best interests of the entire school district. This surplus needs to be allocated to the entire school system so that all students may benefit with adequate educational facilities. Parents recently attended back to school nights and witnessed the poor conditions within the schools. Damaged floors, tiles, plumbing, poor ventilation and no air conditioning in high volume areas, old computers, curriculum programs, poor lighting, damaged sidewalks, curbs, black top and ball fields. PTA presidents can expand the listing with many more crucial items and a football field won’t make it as a priority. Astroturf is a nice luxury, but not at the expense of the future of the education for the majority of our children. A NO vote will allow adequate time to evaluate the proper disbursement of this surplus. Don’t let special interest groups ruin the future of our schools with selfishness. As you receive another superintendent’s message on the over used Emergency alert system tonight. Please remember... *Contact your friends and neighbors to vote NO *PTA’s please contact school parents to vote NO *Support All of Montville’s Education – Vote NO the valley
Diane September 27, 2011 at 12:40 AM
VOTE YES. I am an elementary parent and I support the installation of a turf field. I walk on the track around the existing field regularly, so I am familiar with the field's condition year round. The existing facility was never built properly, has been substandard for years, and is at the point where it is hazardous to the children, including all gym classes (1200 students) and special ed students. That field is supposed to be for everyone's use, not just athletes and band, but in its current condition, doesn't meet anyone's needs. It is a source of embarrassment to the entire community . If we put it off any longer, it will become an emergency situation that will cripple future capital projects. Let's just get it done, and move on. VOTE YES.

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