Majority of voters support Troy School District sinking fund

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published November 15, 2017

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TROY — Troy School District voters approved a 1-mill, 10-year building site and sinking fund tax by a 2-to-1 margin. 

According to unofficial results from the Oakland County Elections Division, 67.72 percent of voters approved the tax proposal and 32.28 percent opposed it — for 9,553 votes in support and 4,554 votes in opposition. 

During a July 18 Troy School District Board of Education meeting, Rick West, assistant superintendent of business services, said that if approved, the sinking fund would raise $3.7 million in its first year. He said the funds can only be used for structural and security improvements, and for technology spending. 

By state law, the proceeds cannot be used for teacher, administrator or employee salaries, or for maintenance or other operating expenses.

West explained that the 1-mill, 10-year levy will be offset by a reduction in the school district’s  debt millage and hold harmless millage currently being levied to taxpayers, so the end result will be cost neutral. If the millage proposal had failed, residents would have seen a 1-mill reduction in their taxes. 

Taken on its own, a 1-mill levy for the average Troy homeowner — with a home with a market value of $292,115 and a taxable value of $111,878 — will be $111.87 annually. 

Half of the levy will be assessed in the summer and half on the winter tax bills, beginning in July 2018. 

“We worked very hard until the last moment,” said Troy School District Superintendent Richard Machesky. “The staff and community group was very diligent. It was a record turnout. We were very happy.” 

Troy City Clerk Aileen Dickson said that voter turnout was about 29 percent, and she noted that 25 percent turnout is average for local elections.

Machesky praised a citizens committee involved with the issue and Kerry Birmingham, director of communications and strategic initiatives for the Troy School District. 

“The individuals that worked on that (committee) were instrumental. It was a team effort. The team really came through.”

Machesky noted that the outcome was consistent with the passage of the 2013 bond and a 2015 millage renewal. 

“It speaks highly of the community that values education.” 

He commended the school board for its due diligence and fiscal responsibility. 

“We don’t go to the people for more than we need,” he said. “We try to work hard to demonstrate the need, and the community responds positively.

“We’re preserving academic excellence, maintaining the investment voters have made over many decades, and ensuring schools are safe and secure,” Machesky said. He noted that the average age of an elementary school building in the district is 47 years. 

He said district staff and the school board will work to prioritize what projects will be considered first, and that floor coverings in all buildings will likely be considered soon.