By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The Crestwood School District non-homestead millage proposal will be back on the special Nov. 5 general election ballot for voter approval after it failed Aug. 6.
At the polls, the millage proposal was denied by voters 1,216 to 927; a total of 2,388 of 19,285 district voters cast ballots, for a 12.38 percent voter turnout.
The non-homestead millage proposal would have raised $40,000 for the school district.
According to the ballot language the 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.”
During the Aug. 12 board meeting, the resolution to put the millage on the Nov. 5 ballot was approved unanimously with Board President Donna Ancinec absent because of illness.
“The purpose of this election is to seek voter approval for 3 mills assessed against all property except principal residence and other property exempted by law in the Crestwood School District for a period of 16 years,” Crestwood School District Business Manager Brian Aprill said. “If approved the rate portion of the 3 mills will be levied in any given year to the extent needed to continue levying our statutory rate of 18 mills.”
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 mills the state expects each local district to levy to earn their respective full foundation allowance,” a district business 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.”
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.
“The state School Aid Act assumes each district will levy the statutory rate of 18 mills to generate their portion of foundation levels,” Aprill said. “If a district does not levy the full 18 mills, this lost revenue is not made up for by the state. In our case, the 0.1906 mills reduction reduces our annual revenue by approximately $40,000. Each year thereafter, in addition to the $40,000 loss the 17.8094 mills will be further subjected to potential revenue reductions.”
Aprill added that Crestwood receives about $900 per student or $3.8 million annually from the full 18 mill non-homestead millage and that accounts for approximately 8 percent of the district’s operating revenue.
Board Secretary Lynne Senia said she was disappointed the millage didn’t pass. She also apologized to the school community because the district was going through transitional things including contract negations and the superintendent retiring.
The board focus moving forward will be to explain that the millage proposal isn’t an increase in taxes because Senia felt the news didn’t get out there for voters to know.
Senia mentioned that the district will be forming committees of community members who will go out and sell the millage proposal to the rest of the community because it is something really needed as a district for its students.
Board Trustee Sue Kaminsky said since the election she reached out to the city council, the current state senator and previous state senator.
Anyone interested to join a committee or become involved to get the word out about the non-homestead millage can call the district’s central office at 313-278-0903.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])