Fennville/Hopkins schools: ask for operating millage renewals

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Two schools will ask voters to renew their operating millages on the May 5 ballot.

Both are 18-mill non-homestead taxes. That means they aren’t applied to the property taxes of residents’ primary households.

They are applied to businesses, industrial sites, some agricultural land and second homes.

The money the taxes bring in is usable for maintenance and staffing costs, not for constructing new buildings or major renovations.

 

Hopkins Public Schools

Voters in the Hopkins public school district will be asked to renew the tax for two years.

Superintendent Gary Wood said the school board discussed making the approval for a longer period.

“In the end, they decided the voter were probably more comfortable keeping it the way it has been for years,” he said.

The millage will account for an estimated $669,492 in the current budget. That equates to approximately 5 percent of the district’s $13.4 million budget.

While voters have supported the tax throughout at least the past decade, Wood said the district would be in dire straits without that revenue.

“It would be devastating if it didn’t pass,” he said. “We’re talking laying off instructional staff and eliminating programs.”

He said he’s been encouraging voters to support the millage because it is not a new tax.

“It’s been in place a long time and it’s something we need to operate,” Wood said.

He said he hopes negative voter sentiment attached to the statewide road funding proposal didn’t spill over to affect their thoughts on the local millage.

 

Fennville Public Schools

Voters in Fennville will see a similar proposal, but it will be only a single year of approval.

Superintendent Dirk Weeldreyer said it is the same proposal voters have seen here for years.

The $2.3 million it is projected to bring in for this year represents approximately 20.8 percent of the district’s projected $12.1 million in revenue for this year.

Weeldreyer said, “If it doesn’t pass, it would have really difficult consequences for us as a district.

“That is an enormous chunk of our budget; we’d need to come back to voters again, ultimately.”

He said the school system knew it was very fortunate in that voters have typically passed the millage by wide margins.

“We’ve been very fortunate in the excellent support we’ve had these last many years,” Weeldreyer said. “A lot of our voters understand the question and issue here.

“Many schools would like to see a different funding model, but this is what came out of Proposal A.”

He said the school board asks for the millage annually, instead of for longer period of time, because voters have become used to seeing it annually.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.

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