|8-4-17 Education in the News|
Star Ledger-- Merger means N.J. has one less school district and $2.8M debt was 'forgiven'
PITTSGROVE TWP. -- There's now one less school district in the State of New Jersey.
Effective at midnight July 31, the Elmer School District and its board of education ceased to exist after it was absorbed by neighboring Pittsgrove Township.
"This means that we will be able to serve the two populations in a much more cost-effective way," Pittsgrove Township Superintendent of Schools Henry Bermann said Wednesday.
The Pittsgrove and Elmer districts in Salem County were already sharing much before the final approval from the state Department of Education came in mid-July for the consolidation to be completed, officials said.
Bill Gallo Jr.| Updated on August 3, 2017 at 5:38 PM Posted on August 3, 2017 at 11:47 AM
Education Week-- Tax Breaks for Big-Box Stores Can Drain Money From Schools
Paying attention to how much nearby corporate retailers pay in property taxes may not be a priority for most school district leaders, but some policymakers think that could change soon.
Across the country, retailers—in particular big-box stores—are pushing back on how local governments assess the value of their properties with the goal of lowering their tax bills. Using a tactic known as “dark store theory,” retailers and their legal teams are increasingly arguing that the massive stores they operate ought to be appraised as if they were vacant or “dark.” When they succeed, the annual property taxes that retailers pay—which help fund public schools in most local communities—can drop precipitously.
The retailers, most of them corporate giants such as Target, Lowe’s, and Home Depot, contend the large buildings their stores occupy—typically more than 100,000 square feet—are difficult to sell because they are customized to a particular retailer. They argue their stores, even brand new and bustling with business, shouldn’t be assessed at the “best and highest use”—which is how most assessors determine how much tax they owe—but at a rate similar to the resale value of box store properties that may be shuttered. It’s an argument that some assessors find absurd and an abuse of the tax code.
So far, the strategy has worked, particularly in the courts, and has led to lowering the taxes of big-box companies by hundreds of millions of dollars, according to interviews with assessors and lawmakers in several states who have analyzed the effects.
Francisco Vara-Orta| August 2, 2017
Garden State Coalition of Schools