By ZEINAB NAJM
Dearborn Public Schools will ask voters for a bond approval in the special Nov. 5 election and the Crestwood School District will seek an increased millage approval during the Aug. 6 primary.
A new DPS bond of $240 million will not require an increase in mills and will be maintained at 4.82 mills if approved, DPS Executive Director of Business & Operations Thomas Wall said during a meeting July 22 at Henry Ford College.
Wall said the bond is two installments for 20 years.
The Infrastructure Task Force Committee looked at all revenue sources to decide how to fund the over $500 million needed for projects across the district. No change in the millage rate was decided by the committee which didn’t want to increase taxes on residents, Wall said.
The committee’s four prioritized areas are infrastructure, meeting current and future capacity needs, campus safety and equity, and to continue increasing the number of air conditioned facilities or other priorities identified by the board.
DPS Communications Director David Mustonen said more information about the bond proposal will be on district websites, informational meetings are planned in the fall and a question-and-answer section on the district website will be updated as questions are asked.
The board unanimously passed the resolution to put the new bond ballot during its July 22 meeting. DPS Trustee Mary Lane was absent.
At a June 24 board meeting, a resolution to send the bond application to the state to be approval was approved leading to the July 22 approval to place the bond on the ballot.
“I just want to mention the process,” DPS Supt. Glenn Maleyko said. “We had gone to Lansing last Monday to meet with the Department of Treasury, Mr. Wall and his team. Just to remind everyone, we’ve had this kind of topic on the agenda related to a bond going back to, like — the first time we actually went public with it was May of 2017 when we had a special study session. In fact some of the initial work started even prior to that when we heard about issues of capacity at the high schools which was half a year so it’s been a three-year process.”
The $240 million bond the board is requesting would go on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. Plante Moran was asked to assess 3.2 million square feet in the district, speaking with engineers to determine the most important building concerns.
A district created committee separated the bond projects into two series with the first in 2020 and second in 2022.
Some of the bond plans for both of the series include roofing, paving and sidewalks, toilet rooms, boilers, computer center or media center renovations, and air conditioning.
The series one analysis lists major renovations at six buildings and series two analysis lists major renovations at 25 buildings all in the district.
In Crestwood, its operational millage proposal “will allow the school district to levy the statutory rate of not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance,” according to the ballot language.
During a Crestwood Board Meeting June 10, the business report said the district is authorized to levy 17.8094 mills on non-homestead and non-qualified agricultural property to help support the general fund operations. The board also adopted “the 2.70 mill debt levy to service current year principal and interest debt payments,” according to the business report.
In 2014, the voters passed a millage rate of 18.9038 allowing for a .9038 mill cushion for future Headlee Amendment rollback calculations. Due to the rapid rise in home values since 2014, the cushion has been eliminated as a result of Headlee rollbacks in four of the last six years.
“The current year rollback factor of .9890 has reduced our maximum millage rate to 17.8094, below the 18.00 mills the state expects each local district to levy to earn their respective full foundation allowance,” the report said. “As a result, if not restored, the district will lose approximately $40,000 in the 2019-20 fiscal year.”
According to the Michigan Municipal League website, the Headlee Amendment requires a local unit of government to reduce its millage when annual growth on existing property is greater than the rate of inflation.
Also, “as a consequence, the local unit’s millage rate gets rolled back so that the resulting growth in property tax revenue, community-wide, is no more than the rate of inflation.”
On the Aug. 6 special election ballot, “the district will ask voters to approve 3.00 additional mills which will be used in increments to increase our millage rate to the statutory rate of not to exceed 18.00 mills, thereby restoring this lost revenue,” the report read. “If the election is unsuccessful, the state will not make up for the lost revenue.”
The 3 mills will be in effective for 16 years from 2019 to 2034 to provide funds for operating purposes, according to the ballot language. No total dollar amount as a result of the proposed millage was included in the ballot language because property assessment values were not available yet.
Crestwood passed its first bond in over 50 years on May 3, 2016 to address infrastructure, property and technology needs with he $35 million generated.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])