Sullivan explained that as of May 30, Gov. Chris Christie announced that state aid is available to fund school construction projects. The district immediately prepared applications for the remaining roof projects and received word Monday that the state approved those applications, which amount to approximately 40 percent of the cost of the remaining roof bonds.
But in order to receive those funds, voters must approve a $6.7 million replacement referendum that will be placed on November's ballot. Sullivan explained that for several years prior to the December 2012 referendum for $13.6 million passed by voters to finance roof replacements and repairs, funding was not available for school construction projects. Further, she noted that at this time funding is not available retroactively and therefore could not be sought to help pay for current repairs taking place at Westfield High School, Roosevelt Intermediate School, or Washington Elementary School.
In in presentation to the Board, Sullivan explained what the district, and residents, must do in order to receive the funds:
- State funding is only available if a replacement referendum is approved by the voters
- Board needs to approve a resolution authorizing a replacement referendum which will be placed on the ballot in November to coincide with the general election
- If the replacement referendum is approved, the district will receive approximately $2.7 million in aid from the State.
- If the new referendum is not approved, the district will move forward with the existing referendum and will not receive any state aid.
Mark Friedman, chair of the finance committee, addressed the issue of bond counsel and other professional services fees.
"Although we're going off and doing this, we're going to pay those professional services fees but we're obviously benefitting quite a bit because we're getting 40 percent of the total cost that we wouldn't have had previously," he said.
Sullivan also noted that there were no guarantees the state would not issue an assessment down the line as it has done previously but even if that occurred that amount would still be neglible compared to the $2.7 million the district would be receiving.