By Ernestine Franco
Residents of Rocky Point school district will be voting on a $20.4 million Maintenance Bond on October 26. This bond is divided into two sections: Proposition 1: $17,478,513 and Proposition 2: $2,953,500. Proposition 2 will only be done if Proposition 1 is approved.
The Bond Summary is four pages long. Proposition 1 has 82 separate items. Proposition 2 has seven items. If you want to see the complete summary, go to www.rockypointschools.org.
Here are some totals from Prop 1:
• Bathrooms: $3,534,000 (indoor); $953,000 (outdoor); Total: $4,487,000
• Ceilings and lighting: $3,783,601
• Locker room renovations: $1,140.824
• Central air conditioning: $694,625
For Prop 2:
• Artificial grass: $2,432,500
These items bring up several questions:
• Shouldn’t regular maintenance be addressed annually, through the district’s budget? Or is this simply a way for the district to say it is staying under the cap by paying for these projects using funds that are not counted in the budget? Are they just taking money out of one pocket so they can say that they’re not taking it out of another?
• In 2012, the district asked us to spend $1.9 million for artificial grass at the football field. When asked whether this money was needed for other repairs, we were told that the district was in good shape and the money wasn’t needed for anything else. How did the district fall into such disrepair in only two years?
Another selling point touted by the board and the superintendent is that the state will reimburse 70.2 percent of the cost. The implication here is that it is free money. Again, this brings up several points:
• Money that comes from Albany is still tax money. Again, isn’t this just taking money from one pocket so they can say it’s not coming out of the other?
• Floating a bond means that we will be paying for this for a long time. Even with the state reimbursing 70 percent, that still leaves 30 percent that the district (that’s us) will have to pay. Then there’s the interest. Again, even with the state reimbursing 70 percent of the interest, how much will the district (that’s us again!) be on the hook for a $20+ million loan. Just think of the interest you pay on your mortgage!
• And let’s remember that we currently already have $20 million in outstanding debt from previous bonds. This will increase the debt to $40 million.
All of this would be OK if all the items on the bond needed to be done, and done now, but they don’t. The district needs to do what we all do in our daily life — Look at the list and remove any items that can wait.
This bond reads like a Washington bill written by politicians. There are some good things in this bond that need to be done, however, there is lots of “pork” that’s just a wish list.
Rocky Point school district has left us no choice but to vote no on both Propositions. Tell the board and the superintendent they need to be smarter and more responsible in how they spend our money.
The vote on this bond will be held on Monday, October 26, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., in the Rocky Point High School.
The author is a resident of Sound Beach. She is part of the Sound Beach Civic Association as well as a proofreader for Times Beacon Record Newspapers.