Today Point Pleasant Borough residents will decide the fate of a project to repair district schools, as polls open today for a $15.9 million referendum vote.
Polls are open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. today. A list of polling locations by district is here.
The district says the state will be reimbursing the school district 40 percent of the cost of the project.
The plan addresses “critically needed” repairs and improvements to according to the district. For example, three of the schools’ roofs are more than 24 years old, have been assessed for repairs and are out of warranty.
Point Boro plans to address the roofs at Nellie Bennett, the high school and middle school, then assorted boilers and heating and ventilation units.The tax impact to the average Point Pleasant Boro taxpayer would be $81 more annually in school taxes, according to the district. The bonding would be repaid through debt service payments in the school budget, after the state’s 40 percent funding.
As part of efforts to outline the project details and the referendum process, the Point Pleasant Borough Schools released the following explainer, courtesy Jacquelyn Goss, the district Community Outreach Specialist:
On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, residents of Point Pleasant Borough will be asked to vote to approve a bond referendum that will be used to fund critical facility repairs at Point Pleasant Borough’s four schools. The State has committed to fund 40% of the $15,948,300 referendum’s lifetime principal and interest payments, which equates to roughly $9.3 million over the bond’s 20-year life, if voters approve the referendum. State funding can only be secured if the referendum passes.
The projects specified in the referendum will ensure the children of Point Pleasant Borough continue to have safe and adequate school facilities into the future, by replacing aged building systems and addressing heath and safety issues that will not only minimize further costly repairs but will also improve the school buildings’ energy efficiency. Repairs include: boiler replacements; heating & ventilation unit replacements; replacement of out-of-warranty roofs; hot water heater replacements; masonry repairs to prevent water intrusion in the buildings; exterior lighting replacements; the upgrade of building mechanical & equipment control systems; replacement of aged rooftop mechanical units; and the repair of deteriorated exterior brick to prevent moisture intrusion in the buildings.
District administration and the Board of Education recognize that outside of their homes, it is the school district that is Borough taxpayers’ largest investment, and therefore regards the maintenance and upkeep of school facilities as a top priority. In addition to a full-time facilities department and team of custodians, who handle day-to-day maintenance, the district continues to invest in regular capital improvements with each budget cycle. Stringent financial management have allowed the district to fund recent improvements like, interior & exterior door replacements throughout the district; updates to school science labs; bathroom remodels; continued upgrades to district technological infrastructure; safety upgrades, including lobby renovations, security camera updates and the addition of supplemental technologies to enhance student safety; and the replacement of Ocean Road School’s roof, a project that was included in the original referendum plan but was funded by the district with nearly a decade of savings.
Plans for the referendum projects began in 2006, with the first of two independent roof analyses, conducted by Cherry Hill-based engineering firm ARMM Associates, which recommended district-wide roof replacement. A second analysis, done in 2011 by the Spiezle Group, supported ARMM’s assertion, also recommending that all four district schools’ roofs be replaced. Committed to minimizing taxpayer impact, however, district administration and the Board of Education delayed the project’s start until long-term debts from past capital projects were paid down. The first series of bonds to be paid off was in 2010, this coincided with the State fiscal crisis, when the State stopped funding debt service aid – State funding for school districts’ capital projects. Unwilling to forgo 40% State funding for the project, the district waited for it to be restored, in the meantime a second debt was paid off in 2012.-13 school year. In the intervening years, the district also took advantage of low interest rates and refinanced the remaining long-term debts, saving Borough taxpayers over $600,000!
By the start of 2013, the roofs, boilers, heating and ventilation units had all exceeded their warranties, and the administration and the Board of Ed decided that it was neither cost-effective nor responsible to continue repairing the existing structures and equipment and began making preparations to pursue the projects without State aid. Fortunately, in May 2013 the State announced that debt service funding had been restored. Because of the district’s careful planning, these projects were among the first approved for 40% State funding – funding that can only be captured if voters approve the referendum.
The district’s extensive planning and commitment to accountability to taxpayers coupled with favorable timing have minimized the project’s tax impact. The referendum’s total cost is $15,948,300, of which 40% of the lifetime principal and interest payments, roughly $9.3 million dollars over the bond’s 20-year term will be funded by the State. Under the referendum, the estimated property tax increase is 2.1 cents per $100 of assessed home value, which for the average Borough home assessed at $375,000, represents an increase of approximately $81 per year, less than $7 per month, on the debt service portion of a Borough homeowner’s school taxes. Just a few years into the 20-year bond term, this number will decrease as the district satisfies the remaining two outstanding long-term debts from past referenda; the first reduction comes in the 2017-18 school year, when homeowners will see a $50 decrease in their debt service taxes; the next is during the 2022-23 school year when another $90 comes off the rate.
Favorable construction costs coupled with historically low interest rates and the 40% State funding commitment means the district can undertake these long-awaited, critical repairs at a significant savings to taxpayers and without disruption to instruction or building operations. These repairs will not only preserve the integrity of district facilities but are also expected to result in cost savings as further costly roof repairs are all but eliminated, while the energy efficiency of new boilers and heating units will far surpass existing equipment, much of which is original to the school buildings; and the addition of centralized climate control systems, making classroom temperatures more consistent and making operations more economical.
What if the referendum is voted down?
If the referendum is voted down, the biggest risk is loss of State funding. The 40% debt service aid commitment expires in August 2014. The projects specified in the referendum can no longer be responsibly delayed. If the referendum is not approved, State funds could be lost but the projects would still need to be done, leaving the district and taxpayers to fully fund the projects. The limitations imposed by the 2% tax cap would make funding the projects through the general operating budget, without seriously impacting programs, impossible.
Additionally, further delaying the projects could further compromise the integrity of the roofs and heating systems, leading to costly repairs and could potentially affect instruction.
Additional information, including the roof reports, is available on the district website at: www.pointpleasant.k12.nj.us/bond.htm. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (732) 701-1900 extension 2425.
Your Vote Matters!
Please remember to vote on Tuesday, December 10, 2013. Polls are open from 2pm to 9pm. You can help preserve the integrity of Point Pleasant Borough’s schools for generations of Panthers to come.
For more information about the Point Pleasant Borough School District, visit the district website at www.pointpleasant.k12.nj.us.