EPS seeks millage renewal

Voters would see no change if millage passes in November

EVART - When voters  living in the Evart Public Schools district visit the polls on Tuesday,  Nov. 6, there will be a little something extra on their ballots. At the bottom of the back of the ballot is a request from the voters to approve the restoration of a school funding millage called “Evart Public Schools Operating Millage Renewal Proposal.” The ballot language reads: “This proposal will allow the school district to levy the statutory rate of 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law ...” Then the proposals asks: “Shall the currently authorized millage rate limitation of 22.11489 ($22.1148 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation), ...be renewed for a period of 2 years, 2013 and 2014, to provide funds for operating purposes ...” There are different numbers, but all is explained and it’s not as complicated as it may seem, noted district superintendent Howard Hyde. “Most important, people really need to understand this is not a new tax. Not at all,” he said. Hyde pointed out that in the past district financial planners had regularly asked for the restoration of a millage that was already in place, but needed annual confirmation. “It is a renewal that we usually asked voters to approve one year ahead of any potential cutbacks,” said Hyde. “Last year, we didn’t ask for the regularly scheduled renewal because there were too many other items on the ballot. “Now we’re faced with needing to make sure the Headlee renewal is in place. Unfortunately, this ballot proposal is also on an already busy ballot. “We could wait until May to hold this vote, but in placing the renewal on this November ballot we will save the voters of our district some $3,000-4,000 in election expenses.” The millage is levied on non-homestead properties only. Anyone owning only homestead property in the district will not be affected at all by the millage. If approved, the renewal vote will not increasing taxes in any way. The problem is that if voters were not to approve the automatic renewal, the school district could stand to lose a bit over $1.8 million in funding. That would be devastating. The ballot language can be a bit confusing. The district regularly requests a couple mills more than they can legally capture. Every and any school district in the state can only capture 18 mills levied against non-homestead taxed properties. The additional mills showing up on the ballot are only a buffer against a rollback or reduction that might occur in the future. At no point will anything more than the legislated 18 mills ever be collected. “The state assumes we are levying 18 mills on non-homestead properties,” said Hyde. “If we were in a position in which we were capturing less than that 18 mills, we would be losing a lot of money. “The state would not be making up the difference. “We have been trying to put this restoration vote before the voters in order to stay one-year ahead of any situation that might arise. We already have the Headlee passed to collect the millage this coming December. “What we need now is to plan carefully for the future to make sure our operating funds are in place for 2013-14.”