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Millstone board seeks voters’ approval to replace two roofs

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By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

MILLSTONE – A special election that will decide the fate of a proposed infrastructure project in the Millstone Township K-8 School District will be held on Dec. 13.

In a binding referendum, voters will be asked by the Board of Education to approve the expenditure of $2.9 million to replace the roof on the Millstone Township Elementary School and the Millstone Township Primary School.

All registered voters in Millstone are eligible to vote in the special election. Polls will open at 2 p.m. and close at 9 p.m. Residents will vote at their regular polling locations.

District administrators said the total cost of the project will be $2.9 million, with $1.6 million budgeted for the primary school roof and $1.3 million budgeted for the elementary school roof.

The cost of the project would be covered by the issuance of $2.6 million in bonds and the appropriation of $338,442 from the district’s capital reserve, according to the referendum’s explanatory statement.

The school district will receive state debt service aid in the amount of 40 percent of the annual principal and interest payable on the bonds if the project is approved, according to the explanatory statement.

According to the referendum, all costs of the project are eligible costs and have been approved by the state commissioner of education.

The referendum would add $56 for 10 years to the annual school taxes of a homeowner whose residence is assessed at the township average of about $532,000, according to district administrators.

Individuals pay more or less in municipal, school, county and fire district taxes depending on the assessed value of their home and/or property.

Approval of the referendum will authorize the board to replace the roof at the primary school and at the elementary school; make necessary onsite and offsite improvements; and to purchase the necessary equipment associated with work on the project.

District administrators said they have worked with professionals for two years to identify the need for the new roofs. They said both roofs are outdated and they reported that the schools are experiencing leaks.

Most of the primary school’s roof is from 1994 and has exceeded its 20-year life expectancy, according to district administrators. The top layer of the roof’s membrane has decomposed due to rain and ultraviolet light and the joints of the roof have become vulnerable to decay over time.

The elementary school’s roof was built in stages during the 1950s, the 1980s and the 1990s. The top layer of the roof has decayed and exposed the underlying membrane to weather, according to district administrators.

If the referendum is approved by voters on Dec. 13, district administrators will  continue to advance the project with the expectation of awarding a bid in the spring of 2017. Work on the new roofs would begin shortly after a contractor is hired.

District administrators have said the work is necessary and said approving the project through a referendum will save residents money.

“By using the referendum process, the state will contribute $1 million toward the project in state aid over the 10-year term of the bonds,” Business Administrator Bernard Biesiada said. “Local taxpayers will only be responsible for $1.6 million of the project.”

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