BEAUFORT — Carteret County voters passed a $42 million school bond referendum after a campaign by a grassroots group, Carteret Citizens Advocating Responsible Spending, endorsed the effort.
According to Tuesday night's unofficial results, 29,046 voters, or 72.01% of the total, approved the referendum, and 27.99%, 11,291 votes, were opposed.
Patrick Conneely, owner of Chick-fil-A in Morehead City, who led the group, and other county business owners advocated for the school bond and separate sales tax referendum on the ballot with the slogan, “Bonds Make Good Cents.”
Proceeds from the $42 million school bond referendum will go to multiple school capital projects and improvements across the county, including classroom additions and construction of four free-standing gymnasiums that will be shelter-ready in the event of a hurricane. Those gyms will be at the three high schools and at White Oak Elementary School.
Mr. Conneely thanked the community Tuesday night for its support.
“This is a great example of this community coming together to support the needs of our area. Parents and businesses decided this was important and invested to get the word out,” he said. “The CCARS is humbled and grateful for all the work to make this effort a success. We look forward to seeing the bond put to work.”
Board of Education Chairperson John McLean also thanked voters and those who worked to pass the referendum.
“The citizens of Carteret County endorsed the school bond referendum and that will have a huge impact on the future of our county’s public school system,” Mr. McLean said. “Funds will be used to address much-needed capital projects at schools across the county.”
County Finance Director Dee Meshaw said the ad valorem tax rate to support the school bonds will gradually increase about 2.3 cents.
“In reality, the County will not spend $42 million at one time, so that 2.3 cents will be spread over several years. Currently, 1 cent of property tax generates approximately $1.6 million in revenue,” Ms. Meshaw said in an email.
Bond projects include classroom expansions at several schools, covered walkways, HVAC system renovations and security upgrades, among others. It also includes $2.5 million to purchase land for a new elementary school in the western part of the county to relieve overcrowding at WOES.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.