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.
The Middletown Board of Education is attempting to borrow $32 million through a voter referendum on Tuesday March 11, 2014. You have probably not even heard of this because they are doing their best to keep it a secret so that only the school PTA’s and PFA’s (their cheerleaders) are the only ones who come out to vote. They have them brainwashed that this is such a great idea. What many people fail to realize is that the BOE spent $8 million over the last 2 years replacing roofs that needed to be fixed. This was done with extra money left over in the budget. And it was done with only 1% tax increases over the last 3 years. Why now does this new BOE need to pay an architect $1.3 million to do this work all over again? They paid this very same architect over $200K over the last year to do this same exact work. Why are they paying them again???
The answer is they can’t explain it. They refuse to answer any questions. They say vote for it because it’s for the kids. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE WE HEARD THAT BEFORE?
While it’s important to have the schools safe and running in a functional manner, the new Board’s level of mismanagement, misinformation, and incompetence is staggering. These repairs will get done whether the referendum passes or not as it’s the Boards’ obligation to do especially since the repairs are now public.
The board owns 11 properties in town worth millions that they could sell to fund these fixtures. Why are they not selling them and asking the tax payer to fund this. If the referendum fails, they will be forced to sell some and use that money to fix the schools AT NO COST TO THE TAXPAYER.
Don’t forget that not so long ago, a $78 million referendum was passed to upgrade schools. So if they were mismanaged in the past, what guarantee do we have that these $32 mil won’t go to waste?