May election looms for FPS’s $131.5 million bond proposal

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published April 22, 2015

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — “It’s a long time coming,” Farmington Public Schools Superintendent George Heitsch said after a Jan. 13 unanimous school board vote approving a $131.5 million, two-series bond proposal for May 5.


The proposal came from a Capital Planning Advisory Committee recommendation. CPAC members include parents, community leaders and others.


The bond proposal comes in the wake of two bond issues that voters shot down in November 2014 and August 2013.


The district’s $186.2 million, two-part redesigned bond proposal failed at the polls on Nov. 5, 2014. During the August 2013 primary, voters denied the district’s original $222 million proposal by nearly 1,000 votes.


The currently proposed 20-year bond would cost the owner of a $200,000 home roughly $120 per year through an average 1.2-mill levy.


The bond would address facility improvements such as technology in the classroom and updates and improvements in security, as well as the purchase of 20 buses.


The average FPS building is 50 years old. Farmington High School, the district’s oldest school, was built in 1953; the district’s youngest building, Hillside Elementary School, was built in 1990.


The bond proposal is two-bond series that would be issued three years apart. Each series would have a payback period of approximately 20 years.


The 2015 series would total $76.8 million, and the 2018 series would total $54.6 million.


The 2015 and 2018 bond series would carry projected interest rates of 4.5 percent and 4.75 percent, said Jon Riebe, the district’s facilities, operations and transportation director.


Some of the biggest differences between the current bond proposal and the last two include roughly $20 million less  for technology, and fewer in additions on schools.


Instead, the district will look at providing secured vestibules and integrating the existing camera systems and buzzers. Instead of revamping school media centers, the bond proposal would help upgrade the mechanical and electrical technology.


Over the course of the bond issue, technology would be added, including portable computers, tablet devices, and audio and video enhancements, according to a press release.


The bond proposal amount was adjusted by 8 percent for enrollment needs.


Heitsch said the district was built for 12,000 students, but it is currently serving about 10,000.


The first bond series would be spent on buildings that are being utilized to the fullest extent, and the second round would go toward central office, transportation and maintenance projects, among other things.


Numerous meetings and community discussions were held over the last few months to discuss the bond proposal. From model classroom school tours to email blasts, the FPS community was steadily presented with bond-related issues.


Farmington City Clerk Sue Halberstadt said last year’s November election garnered a 55 percent voter turnout; there was only a 35 percent turnout for the city’s 2013 election.


“Based on how the (absentee voter) ballot requests are tracking, I think the turnout will be higher than a city election but lower than a gubernatorial election,” she said. 


Farmington Precinct No. 6 — assigned to registered voters located west of Drake Road — has been temporarily relocated from Our Lady of Sorrows Family Center to the lower level of Salem United Church of Christ, 33424 Oakland St. in Farmington. Voter parking and precinct access will be on the west side of the church.


Farmington Precinct No. 2, formerly known as the Crossing Church, has been renamed the “Freedom Gateway Center.”


Farmington Hills City Clerk Pam Smith said in a recent email that some polling changes include Precinct 27. The closing of St. Alexander’s Church means that voters will cast ballots at Greater Seth Temple, 28125 Grand River Ave. in Farmington Hills, for future elections.


She added that new voter identification cards were mailed out in early March, and if residents did not receive theirs, they should contact the City Clerk’s Office.


Smith said that based on the absentee ballot requests so far, it does not appear that this election will generate a big voter turnout. 


The deadline to request an absent voter ballot to be mailed is 2 p.m. May 2.


A voter can obtain an absent voter ballot in person at the City Clerk’s Office until 4 p.m. May 4. The voter will not be allowed to leave with the ballot, and it must be voted at City Hall.


Precincts are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. May 5.


For more information call the Farmington Hills City Clerk’s Office at (248) 871-2410 or the Farmington City Clerk’s Office at (248) 474-5500, ext. 2225.


For more about the proposal,  call (248) 489-3349 or  visit www.farmington.k12.mi.us.


FARMINGTON PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT BOND PROPOSAL
Shall the Farmington Public School District, County of Oakland, Michigan, borrow the principal sum of not to exceed One Hundred Thirty-One Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($131,500,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds for the purpose of defraying the cost of making the following improvements: -remodeling School District buildings for safety and security improvements; -constructing additions to, equipping, furnishing, reequipping, refurnishing and remodeling School District buildings, including classroom, auditorium and media center improvements; -improving and developing sites, including outdoor athletic facilities, playgrounds and structures in the School District; -acquiring school buses; and -acquiring and installing technology infrastructure and equipment?


YES
NO


The estimated millage to be levied in 2015 to service this issue of bonds is 1.20 mills ($1.20 per $1,000 of taxable value) and the estimated simple average annual millage rate required to retire the bonds of this issue is 2.37 mills ($2.37 per $1,000 of taxable value). The debt millage required to retire all bonds of the School District currently outstanding and proposed pursuant to this Bond Proposal, if approved, is estimated to be at or below 3.46 mills. The bonds may be issued in two series, payable in the case of each series in not to exceed 20 years from the date of issue of such series. (Under state law, bond proceeds may not be used to pay teacher or administrator salaries, routine maintenance costs or other School District operating expenses.)

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