On November 5, thousands of residents in our school district will hit the polls to decide what is important in our community. One of the items on the ballot will be the Coldwater Community Schools operational renewal millage.
This is an important election for the district and without a successful millage election, Coldwater Community Schools will lose approximately $5.5 million in revenue annually, or approximately 22% of the current general fund budget. Services and programs like transportation and interscholastic athletics could be drastically cut back or eliminated if the millage isn’t passed.
I must emphasize, this is NOT an increase in the rate of taxation. This is a 17-year renewal of the 18 mill operational millage for the district that was ratified in 1993 and has recently expired. If approved, renewal would not be sought until 2030. Since the ratification of Proposal A in 1994, the state of Michigan has required local public school districts to levy no more than 18 mills in order to receive their maximum per-pupil foundation allowance.
HOW DOES THE MILLAGE AFFECT TAXPAYERS?
This is not an increase in the rate of taxation, and there will be no cost increase to homeowners. This is a 17-year renewal of the 18 mill operational millage for Coldwater Community Schools that was originally approved for 20 years in 1993 and expired on July 1, 2013. If approved, the proposed millage would expire in 2030. Principal residences are exempt. Properties such as apartment buildings, rental property, vacation properties, some vacant land, and commercial/industrial properties would see a continuation of the current millage rate.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE OPERATIONAL MILLAGE IS NOT APPROVED BY VOTERS?
Without a successful millage election, Coldwater Community Schools will lose approximately $5.5 million in revenue annually, or approximately 22% of the current general fund budget — the equivalent of 57 teachers being laid off, or 1/3 of our Professional Learning Community.
Passage of this millage proposal would allow Coldwater Community Schools to continue to build upon the student achievement programs and initiatives that have been introduced over the past few years in an ongoing effort to get our children ready for the future.
IF IT ISN’T A TAX INCREASE, WHY DOES THE BALLOT SAY “BE INCREASED BY 19.2346 MILLS”?
If you read the ballot language, you’ll notice what appears to be a tax increase – but it is not, technically speaking, a tax increase; it is listed as such because the district’s operating millage was reduced to zero by expiration of the current millage following the 2013 levy.
WHY 19.2346 MILLS?
The request for 19.2346 mills is the same millage rate that has been in place since 2006 and is actually less than the rate approved by voters in 2002. The current 19.2346 is made up of the original 18 mills and a .5 mill Headlee override, which have been reduced to 15.9837 and .4509, respectively, plus a 2.8 mill override first approved by voters in 2002.
ISN’T THE CURRENT LEVY 18 MILLS?
Yes; since the ratification of Proposal A in 1994, public school districts have been authorized to levy no more than 18 mills in order to receive their maximum per-pupil foundation allowance from the State of Michigan. If approved, the district will not levy more than 18 mills.
WHY 17 YEARS?
Since 2030 is a scheduled gubernatorial election year in Michigan, the district won’t have to pay special election costs the next time an operational millage renewal is sought.
Residents of the City of Coldwater will vote at the Dearth Center, located at the Branch County Fairgrounds. Township residents will vote at their township hall. For questions on polling places, please contact the County Clerk’s office at 279-4306 or visit: http://www.michigan.gov/vote
The passing of this millage will help reinforce the Coldwater Community School’s mission of providing a supportive and challenging learning environment where every student is prepared to succeed in a global community.
Dr. Tina Kerr is the Superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools and can be reached by email at email@example.com or by calling 517-279-5910. The main website for Coldwater Community Schools can be found at http://www.coldwaterschools.org.