Thank you for visiting our informational page about the Building and Site Sinking Fund Millage Proposal for May 2nd, 2017!
Voters in NHCS were asked to consider a Building and Site Sinking Fund Millage during the November 2016 General Election. Although the proposal was defeated at that time the district has analyzed the election data and has determined to try again this spring. The November Presidential Election was extremely unique and voter turnout was at the highest levels we have seen. We believe all the emotion surrounding the election had an impact on the NHCS proposal. In January the NHCS Board of Education approved coming back to the voters this May for consideration of the Millage again.
The Superintendent and Board of Education want to be sure our homeowners understand the facts behind the proposal to make an educated decision at the polls in May. This webpage and the informational video should provide the necessary information but you can contact the Admin Office directly if needed.
What is a sinking fund?
A sinking fund is a school revenue account designated for school building renovation and major repairs. This sinking fund proposal requests authorization to levy up to 1.2 mills ($1.20 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for 10 years, 2017 to 2026, for “for the construction or repair of school buildings, for school security improvements, for the acquisition or upgrading of technology and all other purposes authorized by law” If approved, this will generate approximately $695,531 in 2017. For several years, New Haven Community Schools (NHCS) has issued bonds that have allowed the district to build and renovate buildings. This millage proposal bears no interest unlike these previous bond issues.
What types of projects can a sinking fund support?
Sinking fund revenues would include projects like major parking lot repairs/replacements, roof replacements, sidewalks, heating and cooling equipment upgrades, athletic facility upgrades (track resurfacing/field drainage), and major building foundation repairs. The specific uses of sinking fund revenues are spelled out in legislation and administrative guidelines from the Department of Treasury. Rather than using general fund dollars for such items, a sinking fund provides a designated source for these needs. Without a sinking fund, general fund dollars must be used for building repair and renovation needs, which would impact the funds available for the day-to-day operations of our schools. With limited increases in state aid over the past several years, and no substantial fund equity in the district, these expenses can directly affect the district’s ability to stay out of a deficit situation.
This past fall the Michigan Legislature voted into law HB 4388 that expanded the use of Sinking Fund revenues to include security improvements and for upgrading or acquiring technology. This expansion in the law would allow for the purchase of new technology equipment or the replacement of outdated computers and other technology devices. In the area of security enhancements we could be looking at expanding and upgrading surveillance systems to improving controlled access door entry systems etc. The law doesn’t provide for any personnel costs in these areas.
Is this an increase in the tax rate?
Yes, this is a tax rate increase based on the approximate values listed in the chart below.
However, because our five year property valuation within the district is trending up, and the district has refinanced its outstanding school bonds, the Debt Retirement Millage rate decreased this last summer from 9.17 mills to 7.36 mills. Our homeowners will pay 7.36 mills in 2016, but this has provided a unique opportunity for NHCS to bring a Sinking Fund Millage proposal before the voters. With the addition of a 1.2 mills Sinking Fund our homeowners would only be paying an estimated 8.56 mills in 2017. This is a .61mill decrease from the final 2015 levy.
At this time, why is this so important?
Over the last several years our budget has remained relatively constant with slight decreases due to declining enrollment. Although enrollment appears to be stabilizing, expenses such as utilities, retirement contributions, supplies and insurance costs have continued to climb. New Haven Community Schools has been in a deficit situation for more than five years and is currently very close to being out of deficit as of this year’s audit. Legislation requires us to continue to work towards a fund balance of 5 percent or greater or we will be considered an Early Warning District. Consideration for a Building and Site Sinking Fund Millage is part of our current plan of Restoring the Financial Health of NHCS. The ability to plan and budget for these major projects, including the replacement and addition of student technology equipment, will help the district. Our strategy is to protect general fund dollars for the day-to-day operational expenses, for which no other funding is available. We can do this by paying for those items that can be paid with sinking funds – roof repairs, parking lot repairs, etc. – with these dollars rather than general fund dollars.
When and where do I vote?
The Building and Site Sinking Fund Millage Proposal with be on the May 2nd, 2017 Special Election Ballot. Registered voters will vote at their regular polling stations as assigned by County Clerk and local municipalities. Absentee voters can see their ballots in the mail as soon as late March.
How do I get more information about the sinking fund?
You may speak with Superintendent of Schools Mr. Todd Robinson. Members of the Board of Education would also be pleased to discuss this with you. You may call the main district number at 586-749-5123 to set up an appointment.
What are the projects that are going to be completed with Sinking Fund revenue?
The district completed a full facilities assessment in March 2016 with the support of the George W. Auch Company—construction management, French and Associates, Architects LLC and K and S Ventures. The Board of Education and Superintendent worked to prioritize projects and forecast the needs over the next 10 to 20 years. The 1.2 mills Sinking Fund would allow the district to begin to plan and budget for the identified projects. Examples of projects the district would be planning for are as follows:
Annual Technology upgrades – replacing outdated student technology (labs and mobile devices)
New Haven Elementary Full Parking Lot Replacement
Endeavour Middle School Parking Lot Replacement/Major Repairs
New Haven High School Parking Lot Replacement/Major Repairs
Security Enhancements to improve surveillance systems and door entry
Transportation Facility upgrades
New Haven High School Track Replacement
New Haven High School Softball Field Major Repairs
Endeavour Middle School Athletic Field Bleachers
New Haven Elementary Boiler Replacement
New Haven High School Boiler Replacement
New Haven High School Replacement of Roof and Lobby Entrance Area
Clark Street Administrative Building Roof Replacement