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School Superintendent Andy Ingall: understanding the millage renewal vote on May 7

Superintendent of Schools Andy Ingall
Superintendent of Schools Andy Ingall

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Andrew Ingall, Chelsea School District superintendent, for this column.)

When I made the choice to be an educator over 20 years ago, it certainly wasn’t driven by words like “millage” and “taxes”. It was fueled by a passion for the process of learning and helping our youth grow and mature into positive and productive citizens.

In my current position, I am energized by my own learning and growth. Further, I have observed on a daily basis how school funding and our various funding sources directly impact student learning.

On May 7, 2013, Chelsea School District voters will have the opportunity to vote on a millage renewal proposal.  On the ballot will be an Operating and Headlee Override Millage Renewal.

The operating millage dates back to 1994 and the implementation of Proposal A that significantly changed the way public schools are funded in Michigan. Under the plan, Michigan schools are funded with a total of 24 mills on non-homesteads. This is made up of a state-wide millage rate of 6 mills on all property and 18 mills on non-homestead property when approved by local voters.

The 18 mills on non-homestead property is the question that will be on the ballot.

There are several key points to consider as voters. First, this millage is for “non-homestead property”. So it impacts industrial, commercial some agricultural property and “second homes.” It does not include a family’s primary residence.

Second, it is important to know why the ballot refers to Operating and Headlee Override millage.

The Headlee amendment to the Michigan Constitution caps property tax increases at 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Since the rate of growth of property values sometimes exceeds the rate of inflation, the actual tax levy decreases when this occurs. This is called the Millage Reduction Fraction (MRF).

In June 2000, Chelsea voters approved a Headlee override millage of 3 mills. The additional mills provide protection as the rates potentially “roll back.”

Due to several roll backs over the past 19 years, the total combined millage is currently 19.5126 mills, and only 18 mills are actually levied.

Finally, sometimes there is confusion about the revenue the district receives from the 2009 bond funds and 2006 sinking funds as compared to operational expenses. These funds are restricted by law to specific uses, which does not include general fund operating expenditures.

This millage renewal is to make the district eligible to receive our full current per pupil allowance for daily operations. The revenue generated from the 18 mills totals over $3.5 million annually, or about 14 percent of the school district’s annual operational budget.

Chelsea is a community with broad-based cooperation, partnership, and support for an incredibly wide range of topics.

We appreciate the value of education and schools that is evident in our community. Each member of our staff in the Chelsea School District works hard to make sure that every dollar invested from the local, state, and federal level is put to the best use to support our educational mission: “Achieving educational goals, one student at a time.”

We are proud of our students and their accomplishments, both individually and collectively, and openly share that credit with all of our partners.

Additional information about our schools, as well as the May 7 ballot language can be found on our web site.

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