The Walled Lake Consolidated School District is asking voters on Nov. 6 to renew its building and site sinking fund millage for the next 10 years.
The building and site sinking fund levy — a 0.5-mill, 10-year millage that can only be used for district capital improvements — was first approved by voters in 2004. The renewal request is for the same amount, which equals about $50 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home with a taxable value of $100,000.
“We decided not to seek an increase in any way,” Superintendent Kenneth Gutman said. “We aren’t asking for more money.”
Currently, the 0.5-mill levy generates about $2 million a year for the repair of school buildings. That money is used to address the greatest facility needs in the district. Under state law, the money the building and site sinking fund levy generates can’t be used for salaries or benefits, buses, furnishings, equipment, technology, or routine maintenance.
Since it was approved in 2004, the fund has been used to resurface or repair more than 1 million square feet of parking lots and replace about 200 parking lot light fixtures; repair dozens of boilers, chillers and ventilation systems; replace more than 200 damaged doors; replace 500,000 square feet of carpet; install more than 200,000 square feet of sidewalks; and other projects.
District officials say the fund has made it possible to keep the district’s schools and facilities in good repair. About $16 million in capital improvement projects have been conducted since 2004, with another $2.4 million in projects identified for the 2012-2013 school year.
Gutman said the millage, if approved, would help continue to keep facilities in good repair, but likely wouldn’t cover all projects that might be needed over the next 10 years. However, he said he doesn’t believe it’s appropriate to ask taxpayers for a tax increase at this time.
“I think it would be irresponsible to ask for more when people are struggling,” Gutman said. “I don’t think it’s the right time to ask people for more money.”
The current millage is set to expire during the 2013-14 fiscal year, meaning a funding gap would be created if the district waited until the 2014 election to request a renewal.
The ballot language reads as follows:
“Shall the Walled Lake Consolidated School District be authorized to levy one-half (0.50) mill ($0.50 per $1,000 of taxable value), for a period of ten (10) years, from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2023 to create a building and site sinking fund for the purpose of the construction or repair of school buildings or any other purpose allowed under Michigan law? This millage is a request for the renewal of the voter approved building and site sinking fund tax levy which will expire in 2013. This millage would provide estimated revenues to the Walled Lake Consolidated School District of approximately Two Million One Hundred Thousand ($2,100,000) Dollars during the 2013 calendar year, if approved and levied.”
The fund is called a “sinking fund” because unlike a bond issue, the money “sinks” or is used each year. “Sinking fund” is the accounting terminology required by the Michigan Department of Treasury.
For more information about the building and site sinking fund and a full list of projects completed with the fund since 2004, visit the district’s website at www.wlcsd.org.