Dear Editor,

As stated at the December 19 Town Hall meeting, the Almont Community Schools buildings are in disrepair and, in some instances, embarrassing. The school is in need of updates to buildings, grounds, athletic facilities, furnishings and equipment. This is a fact not to be disputed.

The community has spent well over 20 years paying a school millage of 8.45 in addition to paying a one (1) mill sinking fund for the past 10 years. Our 8.45 rate was the highest millage rate in Lapeer County and in the surrounding area. This December that rate lowered to 8.0 as the district paid off some of its debt. This rate will lower to 3.30 in December of 2024 on our next winter tax bill. The ten year sinking fund expired with our winter tax payment, until they ask us to vote on a new one.

After well over 20 plus years of paying the highest rate in the surrounding area, the school district has a chance to save the taxpayers money and put the district in a better financial position. Instead they have decided to borrow as much as they can and put us right back in the same position we have been in. High millage, the need for a sinking fund and still no means to do all the necessary repairs and maintenance that it takes to run a district over the next 20 something years.

The Almont Community Schools proposed bond is much like a bill from congress, to get what you need you have to also get what you don’t need, want or, in this case, can afford. After 20+ years of paying for the 2002 bond, and, by their own admission, letting the buildings and facilities fall into disrepair during this time despite a sinking fund, they want to put us right back in the same situation with this new bond.

Adding additional square feet of any kind costs money. New classrooms that are necessary are one thing, an 80,000 square foot building with 40 foot walls is another. The cost to run this building will put an added burden on the district and community. The board will tell you that they hope to generate revenue to cover the costs, but they have no business plan and no design for the building. Regardless, Almont Schools does not have the fund balance to sustain this kind of risky business venture. It is also not up to the community to pay for this kind of structure for the
school.

The community members that are so excited to have this type of business (yes it will have to be a business) should pool their own money together and get a business plan. Why do they feel the whole community should pay for this and the school district should bear the risk? Romeo, a much bigger and more financially stable district does not have a field house. A few years back when what was once Total Sports approached the Romeo-Washington-Bruce community to buy the facility for their parks and recreation department it was a resounding no. This was after they took the time and effort to do their research and saw the risks. Do we want to risk the education of our students on a building with no plan, no design and no guarantees?

Now is the time to lower our school millage as well as our taxes and come up with a plan that will not put the finances of the school district at risk. We can get what the school needs and can afford, as well give them the means to maintain their facilities for the next 20 years if the board chooses to be fiscally responsible.

Voting no on a school bond is not comfortable, most of us have never done it, but remember your vote always counts, this time more than ever. It will be a no vote for me regarding the school bond on election day, February 27, 2024.

— Carol Purvis
ACS2023 Retiree
Almont Twp Taxpayer