Lowell — Along with contentious state races, open Board of Education positions, state proposals and more, district residents will be asked on the Nov. 8 ballot to determine the future of the school operating millage.
Officials are asking voters to renew the district’s 18-mill tax on non-homestead addresses, including industrial, commercial, business and rental properties as well as second homes.
“This proposal does not apply to primary residences,” said Superintendent Nate Fowler. “Non-homestead properties have been paying the levy since 1994.”
Approval of the request will raise about $3.7 million in 2023, or approximately 10% of the district’s funding, according to the district’s chief financial officer, Sonia Hodge.
“Every few years, all Michigan school districts are required to ask voters to restore this 18-mill operating millage in order to receive full funding from the state,” Hodge explained. “Lowell’s levy was last approved in 2016 and expires this year.”
The measure would restore the district’s full, state-authorized 18-mill levy, which has been reduced to 17.0241 mills due to rising property values under the Headlee Amendment. That reduction translates to $195,000 this school year, which is $55.53 per student, according to Hodge.
The district has fine-tuned its budget to make fewer dollars cover increasing expenses, she said. Next Tuesday, voters are asked to increase the millage by 0.97579 mills to make up for the lost funds.
The money generated by the millage goes directly toward the everyday expenses of educating and transporting Lowell area students. If it isn’t renewed, Hodge said, there will have to be some hard decisions made to cope with decreased funding.
You can find more information on the Lowell Area Schools website about the millage, including official ballot language.