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Superintendent: millage renewal approvals ‘essential’ for district

Non-homestead tax, sinking fund on May 8 ballot

Kent City voters will be asked to approve two millage renewals at the polls next Tuesday, May 8.

Both the district’s non-homestead millage — which funds more than 20 percent of the district’s operating budget — and a 1-mill sinking fund expire at the end of this year.

Both requests are for four years, and would provide critical funding for the district, officials say.

‘If we repair a roof, you can’t see it, but if the roof leaks, you know it.’ — Superintendent Mike Weiler  

The non-homestead millage, if approved, will allow the district to continue to levy 18 mills, the maximum allowed since Proposal A went into effect in 1994. The levy will not increase taxes for most residents, since it only applies to second homes and commercial properties.

“It allows our district to collect the full amount of revenue necessary to fund the education of the 1,356 students who attend our schools,” said Superintendent Mike Weiler. The millage generates approximately $3.4 million annually. Losing that income would result in “nearly a catastrophic situation” for the district, said Weiler.

Staying in shape

The second issue on the ballot is renewal of the 1-mill sinking fund. The district is asking residents for another four years for the millage, which has been in place since 1997.

Sinking funds are designed for facilities upkeep and infrastructure upgrades, and cannot be used for day-to-day operations such as salaries and benefits.

The millage has generated approximately $190,000 per year. “I think the district has put the funds to good use over the past 10 years,” Weiler said. On the to-do list coming up are a new roof, new parking lot and new boiler.

Related: District asks millage increase for improved facilities, technology

The district website lists completed projects with their costs from past years, including roof repairs, boiler replacements, classroom carpet replacement, upgraded HVAC, athletic facility fencing, additional parking, bleacher repairs, and upgraded security throughout the district.

“The completion of these projects has allowed us to continue to operate the district in the most cost efficient manner, as well as to allow us to benefit from the improvements that it has made for our staff, students, and community,” said Weiler.

“You can’t always see infrastructure improvements, but they are important,” he added. “If we repair a roof, you can’t see it, but if the roof leaks, you know it. If we put in a new boiler no one notices, but if one doesn’t work, they sure do.”

Getting out the vote

The district is asking for renewal of the two millages in the May election so if unsuccessful in either request, officials have another chance to make their appeal before the current levies expire at the end of 2018.

“These are essential for our district,” Weiler said. “If we are not successful we will be able to come back and do a better job of explaining them to the public.”

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and is thrilled to spend some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.

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