The Nov. 6 election picture in Royal Oak became clearer as ballot language for a building and site sinking fund millage to benefit was approved Thursday.
The 1.0-mill levy ($1 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) will, if approved by voters, take place for a 10-year period from July 2013-23.
Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said citizens should consider the millage because it is “responsible, reasonable and right.”
“A sinking fund provides a mechanism for meeting capital needs on an ongoing basis, rather than allowing a crisis to develop,” Lewis-Lakin said in his presentation. A recent capital needs assessment identified nearly $20 million in projects, with the largest single item being roof replacements.
At its meeting, the Board of Education voted unanimously for the ballot proposal.
“We’ve talked about this in this district probably as long as I have been on the board,” said School Board President Gary Briggs. “We have had a history in this district of putting off a lot of these improvements in buildings.”
In the past, the district has tried to get away with as much as it could without putting money into buildings, Briggs said. "And then we would hit the taxpayers up every decade with a huge millage.”
The building and site sinking fund millage is a proactive approach that, if passed, will allow the board to set aside funds and do better planning to protect the investments the district has made in its buildings, such as the renovations at , Briggs said.
“It’s not a great time, but I think it is a great idea,” said board member Michael Hartman. “I think it protects property values throughout the city when we have schools that we want to send our kids to. When people tour the city and they see the schools are in good shape, it is something that reflects well on Royal Oak.”
If passed by voters, the building and site sinking fund millage would provide $2.2 million of dedicated revenue annually, costing the average homeowner $27 per year. Funds can only be used to make infrastructure improvements and repairs to the school district’s facilities, and, pursuant to state law, millage proceeds cannot be used for teacher, administrator or employee salaries, maintenance or other operating expenses, Lewis-Lakin said.
“I think they had a good honest dialogue tonight,” said Bill Shaw, a Royal Oak resident who attended the meeting. “I have talked to the superintendent and he has been forthright and bottom-line with the numbers. I like that it is a dedicated millage that can only be used for capital expenditures.”
Information will be available on the district website, www.royaloakschools.com, Friday morning. Any questions should be directed to Lewis-Lakin at Lewis-Lakins@royaloakschools.com or 248-435-8400, ext. 1228.