It has been nearly two decades — September 2001 — since the district went to voters with a bond request that wasn’t an operational or sinking fund renewal. On Nov. 5, they’ll ask for an extension of the existing 8.25 mill levy that if approved would generate approximately $21.9 million in additional revenue.
Because the request is for debt retirement extension, property taxes would not increase.
Original estimates for anticipated tax revenue from the extension came in just over $13 million, but a recent increase in taxable value brings the anticipated revenue from the bond to the nearly $22 million, Superintendent Mike Weiler said.
According to the district website, the Board of Education has anticipated renovation and replacement of science rooms and labs at the high school for six years. With costs for the project coming in substantially higher than first believed, and more than can be covered by the sinking fund –one of the two levies approved by the voters two years ago— the Board initiated plans to ask voters to extend its debt millage.
Topping the list of critical needs in the district is an upgrade of safety measures including securing entrances to all district buildings, allowing access only through the main offices.
Additionally, the district aims to modernize science classrooms built in 1975, and computer labs that were originally used for typewriter classes. If the millage passes, both will be updated for 2020 technology.
Also on the district’s list of proposed improvements:
- Renovation of band, choir, art and other support spaces throughout the district
- Renovation of restrooms at the elementary and high school, some of which are not wheelchair accessible
- HVAC, ventilators, electrical generators, water pressure tanks and softeners repaired or replaced as necessary
- Replacement of large band instruments
- Replace old exterior doors and windows
- Construction of a conference room at the elementary
- Gymnasium and playground improvements at the elementary
- Artificial turf, bleacher replacements, new press box, construction of 8-lane track and updated baseball fields
- Parking lot repairs throughout the district and bus replacements
- Replacement of pool roof
- Replacement of cafeteria tables at high school and elementary
In spring 2018, the board commissioned a community survey to ascertain views regarding the need for facility improvements and upgrades, Weiler said.
“Among other things, the survey tested whether people would be willing to support additional debt millage to complete these projects, or whether they would prefer to support an extension of the current debt millage,” he said.
The board determined that extending the current debt millage at 8.25 mills was the most likely to garner voter support. The Kent City district has voters in four counties: Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Newaygo.