You have four weeks to decide whether Almont Community Schools should enter a $58.4 million dollar bond issue. Please consider what this may mean for our schools. Our schools are in dire need of updates and repairs, a bond issue can help get our campus operating most efficiently while providing a safe environment for our children. The bond proposal includes new classrooms and a multi-purpose building that will add 96,000 square feet to our campus.
The Board is saying, “This bond is expected to reduce the current school millage.” This is NOT a true statement. By understanding where we are in our debt obligation, you will see that this statement is merely a marketing ploy. A new bond rate of 7 mills will not in any way affect the 8 mills levied on your 2023 winter tax bill, due by February 14, 2024. Nothing can change that now!
The Almont Debt line item on your winter tax bill identifies your long-term debt millage rate. The rate remained unchanged for years at 8.45 mills, however 2023 brought a reduction to 8 mills. Subsequent reductions to 3.3 mills in 2024, and 3.04 mills in 2025 are scheduled. Reductions will continue as scheduled through 2032 when our outstanding debt obligation of $12.2 million dollars is satisfied. This is where we stand if this bond does not pass!
IF the bond should pass, 7 mills (3.3 mills for old bond debt + 3.7 mills for new bond) will be levied on our 2024 winter tax bills, this is clearly an increase over what would have happened had the bond not passed. Why does the Board feel the need to use propaganda?
Michigan school districts have been forced to make radical decisions to continue educating students. Budget cuts involving people are always painful and can be life changing. Almont was not exempt from this mayhem. Many of you may remember our year without transportation services or when substitute teachers were outsourced. Food service, custodians, coaches, substitute paraprofessionals, and finally bus drivers were all outsourced. Positions were also reduced or combined. The bus mechanic, librarians, attendance secretary and counselor positions, were eliminated. Transportation director and maintenance, two full time positions, became a one-man job. I can tell you this because I spent 16 years in the business office. I served these people, and it hurt to see this happen. Still on payroll are the superintendent, principals, secretaries, teachers, special education paraprofessionals, and a few others. Almont runs extremely lean and most are doing the job of two.
I cannot justify support of an 80,000 square foot addition with general fund dollars when we cannot afford to keep our workers on payroll. Affording the 16,000 square foot addition at the Orchard Primary is questionable as well. I keep hearing the fieldhouse will generate revenue. This revenue stream is NOT guaranteed. What do we do if rentals fail? Will there be restrictions on the presumed revenue stream? How many employees will it take to operate the fieldhouse? Do we trust third party employees to handle everything from security and maintenance to the additional financial activities and responsibilities? We have no business taking this risk with taxpayer funds.
Asking the tax payers to approve a $58.4 million dollar bond proposal (very close to the sum of our last 3 voter approved bond issues) is ridiculous. We are still on the hook for $12.2 million dollars regardless of the outcome of this bond issue! I cannot imagine the chaos and learning disruptions to our campus with the onset of all these projects. Certainly not creating a safe zone for our students. Maybe we could focus on one building at a time, have a little faith in your tax payers.
I cannot endorse this $58.4 million dollar bond proposal; it includes wants that Almont cannot afford to sustain. It will be a no vote from me on election day, February 27, 2024.
— Gail Brinker,
ACS 2019 Retiree