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Residents in three towns will vote on $22.3M Monmouth Regional referendum

Residents in Shrewsbury Township, Tinton Falls and Eatontown will be asked a multi-million dollar question on Nov. 6 that could determine the fate of proposed improvements at Monmouth Regional High School.

The Monmouth Regional High School District Board of Education has authorized a $22.3 million referendum to be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot in the district’s three sending municipalities. The referendum proposes new construction and renovations at the high school that is located in Tinton Falls.

On Sept. 18, during a meeting of the Tinton Falls Borough Council, the school district’s superintendent, Andrew Teeple, and business administrator, Maria Parry, presented details of the referendum to the members of the governing body.

Teeple and Parry previously presented details of the referendum to the governing bodies in Eatontown and Shrewsbury Township.

A collective majority on the referendum vote – and not the results in an individual town – will pass the spending package, officials said.

Teeple presented the proposed work at the high school and described it follows:

• Originall boilers from the 1960s need to be replaced with energy-efficient units;

• Windows need to be replaced, the current windows were installed in 1998;

• Improvements to the floors of two classrooms that are “sinking;”

• Installation of air conditioning units;

• Roof mounted solar panels that will provide sustainable energy;

• Renovations to athletic fields, some of which are in less than adequate condition, turf fields proposed;

• The construction of a third gymnasium to accommodate enrollment;

• Replacement of electrical panels with efficient panels;

• Replacement of the performing arts center curtain and remove current stage lights, to be replaced with LED lights;

• Installation of bathrooms in the exterior of the performing arts center;

• Installation of a district-wide control system to manage energy efficiency;

• Partial replacement of the roof which was installed 20 years ago.

Parry said energy will be conserved by installing light-emitting diode (LED) lighting in the performing arts center and by including solar panels on the roof of the facility.

Parry said solar panels installed on the roof of the high school will save the school district more than $97,000 annually in energy costs. The solar panels will cost $3.1 million, but the investment would be worthwhile, she said.

The $22.3 million referendum could be financed in part by state aid, Parry said. The school district is eligible for up to 40 percent of debt service aid that would help finance a portion of the cost.

Parry said neither the proposed renovations and updates to the athletic fields, nor the installation of solar panels would qualify for debt service aid.

“All of the other interior projects, plus the roof (repairs), are eligible,” she said.

The cost to replace the roof would be $1.15 million without financial support, and $690,000 with debt service aid, Parry said.

With debt service aid, she said, the total cost of the proposed referendum could decrease by almost $4.9 million to about $17.49 million.

“Currently, we have a 2012 bond referendum of $6.149 million which was graciously approved by all the taxpayers of the three towns. For that bond, when we went out and sold it, the interest rate was about 1.4 percent. We matched the current payment from the original 1998 bond and it’s an 11-year payout on this bond. That bond is going to be paid off in 2023 and 2024,” Parry said.

She said the tax levy for each sending municipality in the school district is based on the percent of share. She said the enrollment rate and the equalized value of each town will determine the tax levy for each of the three towns in the school district.

“Right now, Shrewsbury Township’s percent of share is 0.921, Eatontown’s is 43.08, and Tinton Falls’ is 55.99,” Parry said. “For the debt service payment, up to 2023-24, for both bonds (the existing 2012 bond and the new bond from 2018), Shrewsbury Township would be $45.64 per year, Tinton Falls would be $97.08 per year, and Eatontown would be $106.59 per year.”

Parry said those costs will decrease in 2023-24 after the 2012 bond has been paid off.

Councilman Christopher Pak asked Parry asked what the likelihood would be of the district receiving the debt service aid from the state.

Parry said she anticipates the school district will receive the finances necessary to help support the total cost of the referendum.

If voters approve the referendum, Parry said, construction at the high school would begin following the conclusion of the 2018-19 academic year.

In a memorandum, Parry said the “ambitious” referendum “will fix existing issues and improve educational settings for students, staff and the community … These renovations will enable the Falcon family to exist in an environment that is sustainable, healthy and productive for current and future generations.”

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