Berkley Schools sinking fund proposal set for August ballot

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 6, 2018

BERKLEY — On the upcoming August election ballot, voters in the Berkley School District will have the opportunity to decide on a sinking fund millage proposal.

The sinking fund millage proposal, to be voted on Aug. 7, would levy 3 mills on property within the school district for 10 years, generating $3 million a year to pay for projects such as construction on buildings and school security improvements.

The proposal in full reads: “Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property in Berkley School District, Oakland County, Michigan, be increased by and the board of education be authorized to levy not to exceed 3 mills ($3.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 10 years, 2019 to 2028, inclusive, to create a sinking fund for the construction or repair of school buildings, for school security improvements, for the acquisition or upgrading of technology, for the purchase of real estate for sites for school buildings and all other purposes authorized by law; the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2019 is approximately $3,000,000?”

Previously, the school district had a sinking fund renewal passed in 2013 for 0.6994 mill for 10 years, generating $700,000 annually for the district. Deputy Superintendent for Finance, Facilities and Operations Larry Gallagher said that if the new sinking fund millage passes, the Board of Education has passed a resolution to not levy that older millage.

Gallagher said the reason for this new millage proposal is because the previous millage couldn’t buy things such as instructional technology or security equipment.

According to the district’s website, the 2009 and 2015 bond refunder payments will be finished, which will reduce 3 mills from the district’s tax levy.

“We saw this opportunity — with the millage dropping off — that we could just replace that with 3 mills for sinking fund and kind of have a stream of revenue for 10 years that we think is going to put the district in a good spot to maintain the investment we did make with the 2015 bond issue,” Gallagher said.

The deputy superintendent said that the district thought this stream of revenue was the preferred way to go instead of another bond issue down the road.

“It’s actually a savings to the taxpayer, with a combination of factors, one being that the current board passed a resolution that if the 3 mills passes, they would not … authorize a budget that would levy the existing millage,” he said. “By the time you factor in the 3 mills dropping off, the new 3 mills coming on and some other factors, primarily of which is the current sinking fund not being levied, the overall package anticipates a 1-mill reduction for the taxpayers.”

Berkley High School PTSA President RoseAnn Nicolai said she personally is supportive of the sinking fund proposal, adding that it made sense to her with the 3 mills coming off.

“It’s not like they’re adding even more; they’re taking some away. They’re going to get rid of what they had and replace it with something that will make it easier for them to use to do what they need to do,” she said.

“From my understanding, it’s going to allow (the district) to do what they need to do in a better way,” she said. “It’s going to help them with their ongoing building needs, and it does make sense in the aspect that it’s necessary to keep up so they can continue doing ongoing technology needs and ongoing building needs.”