By JOHN T. WARD
Voters in three towns gave overwhelming support Tuesday to a referendum on $17.3 million worth of capital improvements to Red Bank Regional High School.
Board members Frank Neary, left, John Garofalo and Patrick Noble, along with Superintendent Louis Moore, seated at right, checking their phones for voting updates. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
The first question concerned $15.7 million worth of work to replace the Little Silver school’s roof and build 10 new classrooms to accommodate soaring enrollment, and won nearly 70 percent approval; the second, which could only pass if the first one did, addressed the replacement of the grass football field with artificial turf and other stadium improvements, and garnered 59 percent approval, according to the Monmouth County Clerk’s website.
“This is a big step,” board of ed member and finance committee chairman Frank Neary told about a dozen supporters who gathered at the school to watch returns. “We’re going to keep RBR strong.”
Amid light turnout, unofficial results indicated that the first question passed by a vote of 1,508 to 678, and the second prevailed 1,264 to 886. Mail-in ballots, which may be received by the Monmouth County Clerk for up to 48 hours after polls close, are likely to change the tallies, but not the outcome.
Both questions were to be decided by a simple plurality of votes, rather than a majority of towns.
Neary’s home district, number 2 in Shrewsbury, was the only one of the 18 polling districts to reject both questions. “Wait til the next neighborhood barbecue,” he quipped.
In Red Bank, voters in districts 5, 6 and 8 rejected the second question. All other districts in the three towns approved both questions.
Bonding for the projects won’t take place for another year, while architectural and engineering plans are completed, and construction won’t begin until the following year, Neary told redbankgreen afterward.
Voters will begin to feel the pinch of resulting higher taxes, shown in the chart above, in July, 2020; the impact is projected to soften in 2023, owing to the extinguishment of existing debt, officials said.