General operating millage renewal approved for Lamphere Public Schools

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published November 3, 2021

 The entrance to Lessenger Elementary, part of Lamphere Public Schools. The district has a general operating millage up for renewal Nov. 2, and officials say it’s vital to the district’s stability.

The entrance to Lessenger Elementary, part of Lamphere Public Schools. The district has a general operating millage up for renewal Nov. 2, and officials say it’s vital to the district’s stability.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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MADISON HEIGHTS — Residents in the Lamphere Public Schools district approved the renewal of the district’s general operating millage during the general election Nov. 2.

There were 1,897 votes cast in favor of the millage renewal, and 804 votes cast against it. Voters decide every 10 years whether to renew the millage. This renewal is also for 10 years, and allows the district to continue levying the statutory limit of 18 mills on non-homestead properties such as businesses, and to remain at that rate in the event of Headlee rollbacks up to 1.25 mills.

As for residential properties, existing law limits the amount they’re taxed to the portion necessary for the school district to receive the full revenue per pupil allowance permitted by the state. In 2021, that amount was 14.5 mills.

The district collects $1 for every $1,000 of taxable valuation, multiplied by the millage rate. The operating millage is estimated to bring in nearly $14 million during the 2022 calendar year.

“We are very appreciative of our Lamphere community for overwhelming support from the voters to renew our operating millage,” said Dale Steen, the Lamphere superintendent, in an email following the election. “This renewal will allow us to continue utilizing that funding in the most productive and efficient manner to educate the students of our Lamphere community.”

Previously, Steen and Patrick Dillon, the district’s deputy superintendent for business and finance, explained how the majority of the operating millage — more than 85% — pays for the salaries and benefits of staff, including the teachers.

Other costs covered by the operating millage include teaching supplies, professional development training, textbooks, utility expenses, bussing and other district expenses.

“An operating millage is absolutely critical for any school district, because it makes up a significant portion of the general fund revenues needed to educate the students,” Dillon said previously in an email.

The two officials previously described the district’s current financial health as “strong,” noting that in Oakland County there are 28 public school districts, and Lamphere is one of only two districts in the county to have no debt. This is thanks, in part, to a taxpayer-supported sinking fund millage dedicated to the preservation and upkeep of the district’s buildings and facilities.

The current fund balance is also equivalent to about two months’ worth of operating expenses, which is right in line with recommendations made at the state level.

In recent years, the district has replaced the flooring at Simonds Elementary School and Edmonson Elementary School, and will continue to replace the flooring in the remaining schools over the next several years. The district has also been completing roofing and paving projects.

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