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Upper Freehold Regional school improvements completed under budget

A multi-million construction project in the Upper Freehold Regional School District is scheduled to be completed more than $1 million under budget.

The project was approved by voters in Upper Freehold Township and Allentown through a $7.2 million referendum in 2018. The work consisted of three components:

• The installation of new roofs at the Newell Elementary School and Allentown High School, which was estimated at $5.86 million;

• Auditorium renovations at Allentown High School, which were estimated at $1.12 million;

• The installation of an emergency generator at the Newell Elementary School, which was estimated at $203,125.

During a Sept. 8 meeting of the Borough Council in Allentown, Board of Education President Patrick Nolan provided an update on the referendum work and reported it would be completed under budget by $1.6 million.

Following the meeting, Nolan explained that the school district is required to refund taxpayers by crediting taxes due against the principal portion of the bonds that were issued for the project. He said this will take place over a six-year period until the tax credits are exhausted for taxpayers.

Nolan said that during the first five years after the referendum – from the 2020-21 school year through the 2024-25 school year – the district’s total debt service (principal and interest) due on the bonds is $2.54 million.

During that five-year period, Upper Freehold Regional will collect $116,003 from taxpayers for the debt service.

“When you combine the refunded principal with the expected state aid, which was approved when we submitted the project to the state prior to the referendum, we will only need to collect a total of $116,003 on this project for the debt service connected to these bonds over that five-year period,” Nolan said.

“In other words, we will get to enjoy the benefits of this project for the first five years while taxpayers receive a 95% discount on the total taxes due on these bonds during those years,” the board president said.

Nolan credited the project being completed under budget to contract bids being lower than anticipated and to a decision by district administrator to hire a project manager to oversee the work.

“We were fortunate to receive lower bids than we had budgeted for with the roofing project, which was the lion’s share of the total referendum project,” he said. “We also spent a small amount of money on a project manager to oversee the project and advocate on our behalf, which we believe reaped benefits for us in keeping errors down and costs contained.”

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