School, Wastewater Bonds Pass Easily

by | Nov 5, 2019

Above: Swift Community Center was the only polling station open for this election. Credit: Bethany Hashway

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

The two bond referenda on the ballot for Tuesday’s special election passed by 2 to 1 margins, with a larger than average turnout for an off-election year. 

According to canvassing clerk Elaine Vespia, the $5 million school bond passed, 1,090 votes to 495 votes. The $4.5 million wastewater treatment bond passed, 1,146 to 432. The count includes 50 mail ballots. It is unofficial until it is certified Nov. 12.

East Greenwich has 11,466 registered voters; 1,585 of those voters cast ballots Tuesday.

Councilwoman Renu Englehart and School Committeewoman Alyson Powell at Swift Tuesday to talk to voters about the bonds. Credit: Bethany Hashway

Council President Mark Schwager expressed his satisfaction with the vote Tuesday evening. 

“It’s a great showing of support from the community and it’s a great investment obviously in the schools and the treatment plant,” he said. “Two-to-one is a pretty strong showing and it was a good turnout. The School Committee put together a really good package of projects and we’re also able to take advantage of state extra reimbursement. I think the schools made their case effectively and [voters of] the town agreed.”

The school bond was the subject of a late “vote no” campaign by the East Greenwich Republican Town Committee and a group that called itself Concerned Taxpayers of East Greenwich. The EG RTC used social media to raise questions about the bond, which town and school officials refuted. And the taxpayer group sent out a mailing that many voters got Saturday urging voters to reject the bond as fiscally unwise.

Schwager disputed that argument.

“There’s always going to be some opposition to these bonds,” he said. “I think we made a very good case to support the bonds and the importance of making this investment. I was confident in the way the bond was constructed. We had Locke Lord, our bond counsel, review the whole bond and they signed off on it. Their approval is the gold standard.” 

In addition, he said, both bonds were reviewed by Adam Cray from Hilltop Securities. 

“This is not something the School Committee or the Town Council did. This was something that was reviewed by our bond adviser and our bond attorney.”

School Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Mark was pleased as well.

“I am so heartened that our community came together in support of our schools, and our town infrastructure. These bonds passed by a wide margin, showing that the vast majority of voters understand the importance of investing in our future,” she said. “Thank you to our Town Council, my colleagues on the School Committee, and many others, for their tireless efforts to ensure that the school bond passed. By securing the resources to upgrade our infrastructure, we free up much-needed operating money so we can do what schools are meant to do: invest in our kids.”

To read more about the bonds, click here.

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