Three Manistee School Districts to have Operations Millage Renewal on the May Ballot
Three Manistee County school districts are asking voters to renew operations millages on the ballot in May.
Kaleva Norman Dickson (KND), Bear Lake Schools and Onekama Consolidated Schools all have renewals on the ballot.
“The main thing to stress is that these are non-homestead, and it is a renewal, it is not a new tax,” said KND and Bear Lake Superintendent Jake Veith. “This is something that’s been going on since 1994, all the way back to Proposal A, so it’s required, we’re looking at basically a five year renewal.”
All Michigan school districts are required to ask for 18 mills.
For Bear Lake Schools and Onekama Consolidated Schools, that’s the case.
“We’re a kindergarten through 12th grade building,” said Onekama Consolidated Schools Superintendent Gina Hagen. “It encompasses all grades, and anything that deals with education has to be paid for out of that budget.”
For KND, the millage is slightly higher.
“At KND, it’s asking for 18.3 mills, and it is a renewal, but also it is confusing because it does look like an increase,” said Veith. “The reason for it is there’s called a Headlee Rollback.”
A Headlee Rollback comes from a 1978 amendment that limits the growth of taxes depending on inflation and a city’s property taxes.
For KND, their millage renewal may look like an increase because of the effects of the Headlee Rollback—but its the same millage.
“It’s just a protection put in place in case of a rollback on taxes,” said Veith.
Hagen said ‘operations’ encompasses all day to day necessities.
“Your biggest part of operations is your teaching staff, you have your support staff, janitorial staff, bus drivers,” she said. “You also have your supplies janitorial supplies, teaching supplies, supplies for all of our students, anything that has to deal with education is in our budget.”
And these millages make up a big portion of the school districts’ budgets.
“Kaleva Norman Dickson has right around a $6 million budget a year so we have close to 550 students, and it roughly brings in $2.5 million a year,” said Veith. “For Bear Lake, it’s right around a million dollars a year at an approximately $4 million budget.”
“[The millage] generates approximately $3.24 million for our school,” said Hagen. “It goes directly into our operating budget.”
If passed, the millage would be renewed until 2027.