NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — A total of more than $1 billion in bond money was on the table in several Rhode Island towns during Tuesday’s special election.
Every single ballot measure that involved school construction bonds passed, except in North Kingstown.
Voters rejected a so-called $222-million “mega bond” that would have gone toward funding both a new school and public safety complex.
About $167 million would have funded the consolidation of Davisville and Wickford middle schools into one new building. The remaining $55 million would have gone toward building the public safety complex.
Those who voted couldn’t pick one without the other, and 12 News Political Analyst Joe Fleming said that might have hurt the measure.
“When you add on things to a school bond like a public safety complex, people start to get wary, they’re just trying to shove things on you, so that hurt the bond also,” he explained.
Voter turnout in North Kingstown was among the highest of any race yesterday. Fleming said the combination question drove up the price tag and that’s likely what got voters wary.
“Rhode Islanders tend to support school bonds but when they get too big, and also with very high interest rates, people start to think about it, is it worth doing it at this point?” Fleming said. “Obviously the voters in North Kingstown feel they do not want to go forward.”
North Kingstown voters also rejected a $25 million bond to fund an indoor recreation center/emergency shelter.