In the group's closing meeting, the Town Council asks residents to vote on Election Day. #MiddletownRI
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TOWN COUNCIL URGES PEOPLE TO GET OUT & VOTE
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (NOVEMBER 7, 2022) – As one of its last pieces of official business, the Town Council asked everyone to get out and vote.
During a meeting Monday night on the eve of Election Day, local leaders said it was important for residents to get out and express their views.
More so than any election in the past two decades plus, this cycle has been more about the issues on the ballot than those running for office.
That’s led by Questions 4 and 5, which would clear the way for regionalization of schools with the City of Newport along with the construction of a new middle-high school and combined elementary school.
“It definitely was a little bit different this year because the election hasn’t been about who’s running,” council President Paul M. Rodrigues said. “It’s regionalization and the bond. Everywhere you go, it’s what people are talking about and obviously, I hope everyone supports it.”
No matter what happens on Election Day, Rodrigues said he was proud of everything Newport and Middletown were able to accomplish together.
“We’ve all definitely made some new friends and have a much, much better understanding of the city, how it operates and their needs,” Rodrigues said. “Whether it’s regionalization or anything else, the more we can work together, the better off everyone is going to be.”
In many years, the election is dominated by those running for the council and school board. Not since mid-March, however.
That’s when word of the potential teaming up of Newport and Middletown through a unified school committee, finance committee and school administration first broke.
Under the arrangement, officials in both communities have pledged that more money would be pumped into every classroom as a result of the savings from the move. They’ve said the goal is to make the combined district among the best in the state.
Middletown would also be able to build three new schools for pennies on the dollar, while Newport would receive close to $50 million to help with the construction of the new Rogers High School.
The item has sparked significant discussion, with opponents saying there are too many unknowns and the entire process was too rushed. In response, supporters have said the process is explained explicitly in state law (see https://mdl.town/Legislation) and the communities had to act quickly to take advantage of limited time state reimbursements.
There’s been so much interest that the item attracted the interest of the “Boston Globe” the other day (https://mdl.town/Globe), attention normally reserved only for major crimes, significant land transactions or other issues of regional import.
In order for the proposal to succeed, Questions 4 and 5 on the Middletown ballot along with Question 5 on the Newport ballot must be approved by voters. If any one of those three questions is turned back, the entire proposal is off and it's back to the drawing board for Middletown.
According to figures from the town’s Finance Department, if regionalization is approved, it is expected to cost the average Middletown homeowner about a dollar a day. That data forecasted the school bond would add 88 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to the bottom line residential tax rate. That means a home with a median assessment in Middletown of $430,700 could expect to pay $379 more in taxes annually, or slightly more than a dollar a day.
If the effort is not approved, local leaders have said the students — and taxpayers — will both lose. That’s because the $190 million to rehab the existing schools would come at far less of a reimbursement from the state — at least 35 percent — meaning there will be far less money for instruction and education.
Previously, state Department of Education (RIDE) officials rejected reimbursements for a “Band-Aid” approach to fixing Middletown’s schools, saying such an approach would not be money well spent. Instead, the regionalization option offers the opportunity for taxpayers to get all new schools for 19.5 cents on the dollar.
The polls are open Tuesday, Nov. 8 from 7 am - 8 pm. To find your polling location, visit https://mdl.town/Vote online.
Document Link: https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/6122/NYCU-Vote