Voters will decide on non-homestead, Sinking Fund millages
By Megan Kelley
LAKE ORION — Lake Orion Community Schools will be putting forth two millage proposals on the upcoming presidential primary election ballot in February/March 2024.
During its meeting on Aug. 23, the LOCS Board of Education approved ballot measures for a non-homestead proposal and a sinking fund proposal.
The 10-year non-homestead millage will continue to support the district’s general operating budget. LOCS is asking to levy 18 mills with, in the event of Headlee fund rollbacks, an additional three mills.
The current 18 mills levied was last approved in 2014 and expires in 2024.
According to district documents, the estimated revenue provided, should this millage be approved, is $10,607,000 during the 2024 calendar year.
The ballot language reads:
“As a replacement of existing authority, shall the limitation on the total amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property, except principal residences and other property exempted by law, situated within the Lake Orion Community Schools, County of Oakland, State of Michigan, be increased, in the amount of 21 mills with 18 mills being the maximum allowable levy ($18.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation), for a period of ten (10) years, 2024 to 2033? This operating millage, if approved and levied, would provide estimated revenues to the School District of $10,607,000 during the 2024 calendar year, to be used for general operating purposes.”
Districts in Michigan are required to levy 18 mills in order to receive their full share of state aid.
“From a general operation millage point of view, we are requesting a 21-mill authorization with the ability to levy 18 mills for operations. And for just a quick overview of why we do that kind of a request for that millage – foundation allowance funding is the primary funding for public schools and the first wave of funding to those foundation allowance amounts is utilizing the 18 mill levy and the state assumes that all districts are levying the 18 mills and then they use state aid funds to fill the rest of the bucket, if you will, to get up to the full foundation allowance,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance John Fitzgerald. “If a district, because of the Headlee Amendment impact, cannot continue to levy the 18 mills because it gets knocked down over the years, then the district loses that money.”
This millage would be levied on businesses, second homes, vacant land and rental property but does not impact primary residences, according to the district.
Sinking Fund millage
The district is also asking voters to approve a new Sinking Fund millage to replace their current 1.8862 mill Sinking Fund millage that was approved in 2016. LOCS is asking voters to approve the continuation of the 1.8862 mills being levied.
The current millage is set to expire in 2025 and a new millage will open the district up to using sinking fund monies for additional improvements permitted by Michigan law, such as security improvements, technology and student transportation vehicles like buses, trucks and vans.
District documents show that should the measure be approved the district expects to see a revenue of $4,997,250 in 2024.
The ballot language reads:
“As a replacement of existing authority, shall the Lake Orion Community Schools, County of Oakland, State of Michigan, be authorized to levy 1.8862 mills ($1.8862 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation), for a period of ten (10) years, being the years 2024 to 2033, inclusive, to create a building and site sinking fund to be used for the construction or repair of school buildings, school security improvements, the acquisition or upgrading of technology, the acquisition of student transportation vehicles, trucks and vans and parts, supplies and equipment used for the maintenance of these vehicles and for any other purposes permitted by law? This millage if approved and levied would provide estimated revenues to the School District of approximately $4,997,250 during the 2024 calendar year.”
“It’s really just a request to extend the date of the existing program,” said Fitzgerald. “We don’t want to push back up (to the original levy), we just want to keep things going.”
Conversations around these ballot measures have been occurring for some time now at board of education meetings.
Board Treasurer Jake Singer made a strong emphasis on what the district asks for and how it is worded. At an earlier meeting this month, he expressed concern over language on the Sinking Fund proposal that rounded the decimal point up to 1.89 mills and said he wanted the sinking fund proposal to be a true replacement of their current levy.
During the meeting on Aug. 23, Singer was happy with the new language, including all four decimal points.
“It will make it easier for the community to understand and hopefully accept,” Singer said.
Superintendent Ben Kirby has been a proponent for a new sinking fund measure.
“When the school district started our bond proposal project in 2018, $300 million in needs were identified. Our community approved a bond for $160 million to update, upgrade, and enhance our district. The sinking fund will provide revenue to complete projects that were not included in the 2018 bond,” said Kirby.
The district is expected to provide additional information to the community both directly and via the district website (LakeOrionSchools.org/School-Election-Information) and social media.
For additional details about the proposal, visit LakeOrionSchools.org/School-Election-Information or contact Superintendent Ben Kirby at 248-693-5400 or by email at Ben.Kirby@lok12.org.