Residents of the West Bloomfield School District will be asked to vote on a proposed building and site sinking fund millage totaling 1.5 mills for the district during the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election.
A mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value, which is generally equal to half the property’s market value. The owner of a property with a taxable value of $100,000 ($200,000 market value) would pay $150 in the first year of the new millage’s collection.
According to the ballot language, the millage would be collected for a 10-year period, from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2023, with an estimated $2.4 million collected in the first year of the millage. An estimated $28 million would collected over the 10-year period.
West Bloomfield Schools Superintendent Dr. Gerald Hill said that the millage is necessary to fund building and site repairs through a funding mechanism outside of the district’s general fund in order for educational programs for students to receive more general fund dollars.
He added that the building and site sinking millage revenue would go toward repairs, replacements, renovations, and remodeling of roofs, air-conditioning units, boilers, classrooms, athletic facilities, driveways and parking lots, as well as infrastructure needs, playgrounds, and other building and site items over the next 10 years.
The building and site sinking millage revenue would also be used for districtwide technology infrastructure needs, including additional Wi-Fi networks.
Dr. Hill pointed out that nine districts in Oakland County, including the Huron Valley and Walled Lake Consolidated school districts, also collect building and site sinking fund millage and that revenue from the collection can only be used to repair, remodel or construct buildings and sites; the revenues can’t be used for teacher, administrator, or other employee salaries or benefits.
Unlike bonds previously issued by the school district, Dr. Hill said that there’s no interest or debt payments incurred with a building and site sinking fund millage.
“West Bloomfield has never had a sinking fund, but sold bonds,” he said. “With this millage, we won’t have to take money from education and this would stabilize us financially. Projects would be funded on a pay-as-you-go basis and we would pay no interest with the millage.”
Even with the pending closing of Ealy Elementary School next year, the district states that $20 million is still needed for facility and site repair needs on the remaining district schools and buildings to keep them safe and up-to-date.
If the millage is not approved, Dr. Hill said that major repairs and equipment replacements would likely be postponed, and that the general fund would have to cover costs for urgent repairs and upgrades.
It was also pointed out that the district sold $15 million in bonds in 2010 and $9 million in 2011.
The district states that the $15-million bond issue has been spent, while $6 million remains from the $9-million bond issue in 2011 for remaining upgrades in technology and instructional equipment.