Montabella Schools Hope To Avoid Confusion on Ballot Proposal

It’s election season again. It’s not a big one but several Northern Michigan communities will have a chance to hit the ballot boxes Tuesday.

A handful of millage proposals and a couple marijuana ordinances highlight the day but one community is trying to be as clear as possible with their ballot proposal.

“Whether it’s a big election or a small election, I think your community will come out and voice their opinion,” says Shelly Millis, superintendent of Montabella Community Schools.

Montabella has always seemed to have the support of the community and asks for it again tomorrow when they vote. The district is asking for a standard millage and a sinking fund millage, the kind that can only be used on physical repairs and updates.

“It has saved our general fund dollars quite a bit in the past,” says Millis.

Both are millage renewals, sort of. In the past two years, the state has adjusted that to include technology and security upgrades. In order to unlock the new uses, it has to be reworded and thus become a new sinking millage proposal.

“That’s always a sort of an ongoing battle,” says Millis, “Technology is always changing so this will allow us to keep a little more up-to-date with that.”

You can’t assume anything when it comes to elections but when you’re dealing with a school millage renewal, it’s almost a certainty. People are usually good with keeping the status quo.

When you’re adding a new proposal, that’s where people start to get a little skittish. They don’t want to pay extra taxes.

This is not an extra tax. This is just reworded so they can’t use the term “renewal” and that’s what is going to cause some confusion going forward as the spreads across the state.

“In order to us to have those new uses, we need to ask to have the ballot language match that,” says Millis,  “It comes across as a new issue even though it’s the same mills and the same number of years that we had for a number of years.”

Voters would not pay a single penny more. Things would stay the same despite the wording change. Except for what the school can spend it on.

“We’ve been trying to communicate that out as much as we can probably the last month or so,” says Millis, “Hopefully so that they know the differences.”