Schools Millage Proposal Approved for Nov. 6 Ballot
A building and site sinking fund, paid for with a 10-year, 1.5-mill levy, would help make repairs at schools.
The Nov. 6 election picture in West Bloomfield became clearer as ballot language for a building and site sinking fund millage to benefit West Bloomfield Schools was approved Monday.
The 1.5-mill levy ($1.50 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) will, if approved by voters, take place for a 10-year period from July 2013-23.
Deputy Superintendent Thomas Goulding, who had originally asked the West Bloomfield School Board to approve ballot language for a 1-mill levy, said the funds could primarily help make repairs at schools.
At its meeting Monday at West Bloomfield High School, the Board of Education voted 6-1 for the ballot proposal. Trustee Matt Chase was the lone "no" vote. He questioned the will of the community to vote for the millage given past purchases of bonds, including the 2009 bond proposal, which passed by a 2-to-1 margin in the May election.
"I just see that as a tough sell to say, You already have bond dollars, why do you need more?" Chase said.
Trustee David Einstandig, who had originally suggested asking for the 1.5-mill levy, pointed out that bond dollars are already allocated by administration. According to Goulding, money left in the 2012 capital projects fund totals just more than $7 million, which must be spent in two years.
"The lion’s share of that money was to be used for technology, band instruments, other equipment, school buses, and a small amount that I had in reserve for any minor facilities needs or improvements," Goulding said.
Goulding added that the proposal would eliminate the aspect of borrowing which follows bond issues. He said that the district is in debt from various bond issues of more than $140 million.
Bond dollars cannot be used to make repairs, Goulding said, however, they can be used for full-blown replacements.
"We believe we can defer and pay for a number of items, especially out of our operations budget, in the repair area, with sinking fund money," he said.
According to Einstandig, other Oakland County school districts that utilize a sinking fund average a 1.5-mill levy.
"The more money we have on our capital side, the less overall repairs that we’ll need for other things," he said. "If we're able to get close to 2-mill on the sinking fund that we'll find that it's going to free up a significant amount of dollars on the general revenue end."
"Take a shot. Ask for the 1.5 (mill) ... if not, then we could look at, maybe, a different election date. Maybe a stronger push, similar to how we did the bond program that we got approved."