Nonhomestead millage renewal on ballot

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published July 30, 2014

HARPER WOODS — The Harper Woods Schools has a key millage renewal on the Aug. 5 ballot, and school officials want to get the word out that this is not a new tax.

“It is important that voters are aware that this is not a new tax, but rather it is a renewal of a tax that has been on the books for years,” Board of Education President Brian Selburn said in an email. “The importance of this renewal cannot be overstated. This tax generates approximately 10 percent of the school district’s annual budget, and the operation of the district would be devastated without it.”

Another key component that district officials have stressed is that this is what is commonly known as a “nonhomestead” millage renewal.

“This tax only applies to commercial business properties and rentals,” Selburn said. “It does not affect the property taxes of homeowners living in their primary residence. However, in order to maintain our property values, we must preserve our reputation as a community that strongly supports our schools.”

The renewal is for a total of about 18 mills.

Superintendent Todd Biederwolf explained that a “nonhomestead” millage is a common in almost all communities throughout the state. This renewal is based on something that was approved by voters about 10 years ago.

He, too, emphasized the fact that this is not a tax increase.

“It is simply and exclusively a renewal,” Biederwolf said in an email.

As further explanation of the renewal proposal, Biederwolf said that people who live in their homes do not pay the tax. Rental properties and commercial properties are the ones that this proposal affects. The nature of this renewal is that its failure would mean a loss of about $1.3 million dollars in the district’s budget.

“No other source of revenues would be anticipated to replace these funds if the community does not support this proposal,” Biederwolf said. “The absence of these funds would quickly put the district into a position whereby expenditures would need to be reduced. Should that occur, it is likely that kids and classrooms would be negatively impacted.”         

This proposal is one school issue on the ballot. The other is a Wayne County Regional Education Service Agency Regional Enhancement Millage for 2 mills.

That proposal was not brought forth by the Harper Woods School District and is a county measure through the intermediate school district, Wayne RESA.

Although the county’s intermediate school district was able to garner enough school district support for that tax, the Harper Woods School Board did not favor asking the residents for the new tax and voted against putting it on the ballot, which is completely separate from the district’s renewal proposal.

“Voters need to be aware that that is a separate issue and the two proposals should not be confused,” Selburn said.