4,109 of 47,906 registered voters in Middletown Township went to the polls yesterday to vote on a $32.2 million spending measure for repairs to the township’s schools. The referendum passed 2,951 to 1,158 with 43,797 abstentions. Mail-in and provisional ballots are not included in these unofficial figures provided by Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French’s office.
The Middletown Board of Education is now authorized to borrow $19.3 million for school maintenance and repairs. $12.9 million for the project is expected to come from 20 Regular Operating District (ROD) grants from the New Jersey Department of Education.
In an OpEd posted on Middletown Patch, School Board Member Vinnie Brand made the case for the referendum, arguing that the grants are a rare opportunity which give the board an opportunity to make the “critical need” repairs for 60% of cost while passing 40% off to statewide taxpayers. Brand noted that interest rates are low and that labor rates are “more reasonable.”
Middletown resident Chris Fotache countered Brand’s argument in an OpEd on MMM submitted yesterday as the polls opened. Fotache argued that the Board of Ed did not publicize the referendum in order to assure a low voter turnout that would favor the referendum. He alleged fiscal mismanagement and duplicate spending on repairs and planning fees.