Voters in Allentown and Upper Freehold Township have rejected a school referendum that proposed a slate of projects in the Upper Freehold Regional School District and carried a tax increase for property owners in the two municipalities.
According to results posted by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, the referendum was defeated by a total vote of 1,098 no to 625 yes in a special election that was held on Sept. 26.
Voters in Upper Freehold Township rejected the referendum by a count of 850 no to 480 yes. Voters in Allentown rejected the referendum by a count of 248 no to 145 yes, according to the clerk’s office.
The total cost of the proposed projects was $9,959,815, according to the school district.
Patricia Hogan, president of the Board of Education, said, “The board is disappointed the referendum failed. Too many people did not vote and many parents who did, voted no. Not many came out to our public information sessions. The Facebook banter and results are disheartening.
“We looked at the projects that needed to be done and chose what we hoped would speak to the majority of our taxpayers. A lot of misinformation was circulated. Unfortunately, the general public does not understand the restrictions the state puts on us when it comes to capital improvements and major repairs.
“It is unlikely we will resubmit (the referendum) for December. The board will be discussing its next steps at our meeting on Oct. 10 at 7 p.m.,” Hogan said.
According to the school district, if the referendum had been approved, the owner of a home that is assessed at the Allentown average of $289,483 would have paid an additional $103 per year in school taxes for 20 years.
The owner of a home that is assessed at the Upper Freehold Township average of $464,500 would have paid an additional $158 per year in school taxes for 20 years, according to the school district.
District administrators said state funding of up to 40 percent had been approved to assist the district with project costs. They said the systems that were proposed to be replaced “are at the end of their lives and are essential to the operation of the school.”
The referendum proposed the following work: Newell Elementary School, roof replacement; Allentown High School, roof replacement; Global Learning Center and Vo/Ag building, roof project; Newell Elementary School, installation of roof mounted solar panels; Allentown High School, installation of roof mounted solar panels; Global Learning Center, installation of roof mounted solar panels; Allentown High School, auditorium renovations to include a new stage floor and new lighting and sound systems; and Newell Elementary School, installation of a new emergency generator.