Cinnaminson Pursuing Additional Money for Capital Projects

The district was awarded $6.5 million in state aid for capital projects, but there's more money out there, according to architect Robert Garrison.

Published: December 17, 2013
Written by Rob Scott, Editor, Cinnaminson Patch

 

Cinnaminson pursuing additional monies

Though the district didn’t get as much state aid as it’d hoped for, there might be a way for Cinnaminson to get even more state funding for capital projects at all four of its schools, according to architect Robert Garrison.

Cinnaminson was among 331 districts statewide that submitted approximately 2,100 applications for grants through the state’s Regular Operating District (ROD) program.

More than $500,000,000 was ultimately disbursed by the state to help fund the cost of more than 1,500 individual school construction projects.

“It just shows you the pent-up need of facility money in New Jersey,” said Garrison, who has been working with the district on its long-gestating capital projects plan the last few years.

The need was so great that the money ended up being spread relatively thin, with Cinnaminson only receiving $6.5 million rather than the $10 million or so it had hoped for.

Though Garrison admitted he has some concerns about the reduced figure, he said, “We’re thankful for $6.5 million.

We're not going to run away from $6.5 million." It’s as yet unclear specifically what the district will be allowed to use the money for. The district is awaiting guidance from the Department of Education's Office of School Facilities, which will spell out how Cinnaminson can spend the grant. Garrison suspects the high school—where the most critical projects, from the state’s perspective, are located—will be the beneficiary of most, or all, of the funding.

However, Garrison explained there remains another avenue the district can pursue to secure more funding, to make up for what it didn’t get in the ROD grant submission: debt service aid.

With debt service aid, the district wouldn’t receive cash up-front—as with the ROD grant—but rather the state would disburse the money over a multi-year (usually 20) period to help the district pay off the money it would have to borrow to fund the projects. Garrison said debt service aid, if approved by the state, could be packaged with the ROD grant to “minimize the tax impact.” Debt service aid is often approved for up to 40 percent of the total project cost, according to Garrison.

He said he has “absolute” confidence in the district’s ability to get approved for at least some debt service aid because—unlike with the ROD grant program, which had a finite amount of money and a massive amount of competition—there are far fewer restrictions.

Of course, both the ROD grant and debt service aid are contingent on voters approving the local share via referendum.

Garrison said it’s unclear when the state will provide guidance on what the ROD grant is earmarked for, but anticipates an answer shortly after the start of the new year.

Visit the district website to review the full scope of the capital improvement plan, which includes major improvements to the high school (new gym, roof replacement, new utilities, etc.), as well as improvements to the other three buildings.

 

 

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