Public Safety and school bond questions on ballots

 

TRI-CITY AREA — The first of three elections in the State of Michigan will be held next Tuesday, February 27. The Presidential Primary race is not the only thing on the ballot locally.

In Imlay City and Almont, voters will also have a voice on the fate of a ballot question seeking approval of a Public Safety Department and a $58.4 million school bond issue.

On the Democratic side of the Presidential Primary ballot, voters have three choices including Marianne Williamson, Dean Phillips and Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Although when ballot language was originally submitted there were seven Republican names on the ballot, the list has been paired down to just two names; Nikki Haley and Donald J. Trump.

Ryan Binkley, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy all were listed on the ballot but have since dropped out of the race for President.

Locally, voters in the Almont school district will be casting their ballot on a controversial school bond issue that has created some animosity and hard feelings between opposing sides.

The school board settled on the $58.4 million project, after scaling back an earlier bond plan from a previous board, to the tune of more than $72 million.

At the heart of the controversy is construction of a new field house, if the bond is successful.

The multi-purpose building would cost around $16 million to build, not other amounts that have been splashed and circulated across social media.

Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide a Michigan Presidential Primary race and two local ballot questions.

Board members have said even if the field house was not built, there are still needs that have to be done and would save the district only three million in costs, over the cost of the new field house.

Regardless of the amount of the bond and the scope of the project, board members have said the millage rate would be set at 7 mills, less than what taxpayers are currently paying.

According to the ballot language, if the bond issue passes, “the estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2024, under current law, is 3.70 mills ($3.70 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a 1.00 mill net decrease over the prior year’s levy. The maximum number of years the bonds of any series may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is twenty-two (22) years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 6.27 mills ($6.27 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).”

The school district expects to borrow from the State School Bond Qualification and Loan Program to pay debt service on these bonds.

The estimated total principal amount of that borrowing is $7,203,615 and the estimated total interest to be paid thereon is $7,431,716. The estimated duration of the millage levy associated with that borrowing is 22 years and the estimated computed millage rate for such levy is 7.00 mills.

The estimated computed millage rate may change based on changes in certain circumstances.

Meanwhile, voters in Imlay City are also being asked to consider a ballot issue with the request of a public safety department.

City officials have said if there was a favorable outcome for the ballot question, the police and fire departments would come under one umbrella and be overseen by a Director.

Passage of the millage would allow for funds to be saved for new fire trucks and other equipment, in addition to the fire chief becoming a full-time position.

It would also allow the police department to hire two additional officers and help with the purchase of patrol vehicles.

The public safety millage, which would be a new tax for residents, would last for eight years, and generate over $300,000 in the first year of collection.

The Imlay City ballot language reads, “Shall the constitutional limitation upon the total amount of taxes which may be levied on all taxable real and personal property in the City of Imlay City, Lapeer County, Michigan be increased in an amount not to exceed 2.98 mills for each one ($1.00) dollar ($2.98 for each one thousand ($1,000) of the taxable value of such property, as finally equalized), for the purpose of providing funding for public safety (police and fire operations) within the City of Imlay City?

“The duration of the millage shall be for a period of eight (8) years (2024 through 2031 inclusive). The estimated revenue to be collected in the first year that the millage is authorized and levied is $364,139.”

Voters throughout Michigan have been given an additional tool for voting, with the inception of the Early Vote law that was recently passed. Voters have nine days, prior to the scheduled Election Day (Feb.27) to go to the polls in their jurisdictions and cast votes early.

Voters can also choose to go to the polls as normal, or cast an absentee ballot.

You can contact your local clerk’s office for more information.