The Toms River Regional school district has formally accepted a $12.5 million state grant to help plug a budget hole that would have developed due to a loss of the township's tax base following Superstorm Sandy.
The Board of Education approved the measure at its Aug. 20 meeting.
State officials said the grant will enable the school district to continue providing essential education
services to students while limiting the property tax increase to 2
percent, on average, for taxpayers.
The Essential Services Grant, as it is called, differs from FEMA's Community Disaster Loan program, which many local municipalities have used to help balance their budgets this year. Under the FEMA program, a loan of up to $5 million could be used to make up for a loss of ratable base; the loans have been forgiven in past storms.
But in Toms River's case, officials have said the community's need far exceeded the $5 million limit, prompting the state to step in to help.
"These grants will ensure that Toms River residents continue to have
access to local public works, emergency and education services that are
so vital to their own recovery," Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement announcing the school district's grant, as well as a $15,510,417 grant to the municipal government aimed at preventing layoffs.
The Essential Services Grants are funded through Community Development
Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery allocations included in the multi-billion dollar Sandy aid package passed by Congress in early 2013.
In all, about $44.5 million in grant money was distributed to 11 communities in New Jersey, though the bulk of it went to Toms River in the form of both the school district and municipal grants.
Toms River suffered a 15.3 percent reduction in its ratable base in Sandy, which amounted to a $19,916,775 loss in property tax revenue, according to state records.