HomeExaminerExaminer NewsRoof repairs are key component of Upper Freehold Regional referendum

Roof repairs are key component of Upper Freehold Regional referendum

Members of the Board of Education in the Upper Freehold Regional School District are asking residents in Allentown and Upper Freehold Township to approve a $7.18 million construction referendum that proposes upgrades in the school district.

Voters will have their say on the referendum on Election Day, Nov. 6.

The referendum has three components that administrators say are necessary for the district:

• 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. Administrators said the systems date back to 1964.

Upper Freehold Regional school board Vice President Rick Smith and board member Lara Michaud attended the Oct. 23 meeting of the Allentown Borough Council as district administrators sought to get word of the referendum out to the community as Election Day nears.

Smith said “hundreds of hours of review and discussion” have gone into preparing for the referendum.

“For us to take this on project by project (through the district’s budget and not through a referendum) would significantly impact our budget and educational programs,” he said. “If we do (the projects) through a referendum, the state will pay 40 percent.

“If we don’t pass the referendum, the work will be 100 percent on the backs of taxpayers and we as a budget committee will have to hunker down to see what we can cut from the budget, sports, clubs, extracurricular activities,” Smith said.

Regarding the proposed work in the high school auditorium, Smith said, “We are not trying to create Radio City Music Hall. The auditorium has had problems for years. The stage floor has become a patchwork of repairs. The stage will be replaced with a very modest floor.”

He said that under the current conditions, “We cannot use the auditorium as a source of revenue any more because people (renting the space) cannot plug their equipment into our system. We are trying to get back to where the auditorium can be a source of revenue.”

The estimated interest on the referendum 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 taxpayers in Allentown and Upper Freehold with an obligation of $6.889 million, according to district administrators.

If the 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.

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