Voters in Allentown and Upper Freehold Township will be asked by the Upper Freehold Regional School District Board of Education to approve a $7.18 million construction referendum on Nov. 6. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at regular local polling locations.
The proposal that will go before voters in both towns on Election Day is $2.31 million less than a referendum voters rejected on Sept. 26, 2017.
The $9.96 million referendum voters defeated in 2017 included the following projects: Newell Elementary School, roof replacement; Allentown High School, roof replacement; Global Learning Center and Vo/Ag building, roof project; Newell Elementary School, solar energy panels project; Allentown High School, solar energy panels project; Global Learning Center, solar energy panels project; Allentown High School, auditorium renovations; and Newell Elementary School, new emergency generator.
The referendum residents will consider on Nov. 6 totals $7.18 million and has three components, according to district administrators. They are:
• Roof repair and replacement, $5.86 million. Administrators said all of the roofs are at the end of their useful life, are no longer under warranty and patches are beginning to fail. A new roof would come with a 20-year warranty and approval of the new roof would eliminate roof maintenance costs in the district’s annual budget;
• Emergency generator at the Newell Elementary School, $203,125. Administrators said a generator would increase student safety and security, provide additional lighting in corridors and stairwells, provide lighting in restrooms during extended outages and provide power to the elevator;
• Auditorium repairs at Allentown High School, $1.12 million. Plans call for repairing the stage floor, upgrading aging electrical systems, repairing lighting systems and fixtures and replacing an unreliable sound system. The systems date back to 1964.
Administrators have said if the referendum fails on Nov. 6, the school district could still pursue the roof repairs by applying to the state for emergency funding.
The estimated interest on the projects is $3.25 million, yielding a total cost of $10.438 million. State funding in the amount of $3.549 million is expected, leaving the school district with an obligation of $6.889 million, according to district administrators.
If the $9.96 million referendum had been approved in 2017, the owner of a home 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 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 a handout prepared by the district.
If the $7.18 million referendum is approved on Nov. 6, the owner of a home assessed at the Allentown average of $290,270 will pay an additional $71 per year in school taxes for 20 years. The owner of a home assessed at the Upper Freehold Township average of $473,400 will pay an additional $115 per year in school taxes for 20 years, according to Business Administrator Margaret Hom.