Ravi Ramamurthy wraps his arm around his 11-year-old son, Shiv, while showing him the process and importance of voting during the Aug. 8 election at the Novi Middle School polling location. Also pictured are election inspectors Michelle LaLonde and Mary Devlin.

Ravi Ramamurthy wraps his arm around his 11-year-old son, Shiv, while showing him the process and importance of voting during the Aug. 8 election at the Novi Middle School polling location. Also pictured are election inspectors Michelle LaLonde and Mary Devlin.

Photo by Charity Meier

Novi school district voters pass millages

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published August 22, 2023

NOVI — The Novi Community School District was able to ensure it will recieve its full share of funding for the foreseeable future Aug. 8 with the passage of its operating and recreational millages.

“We are so thankful to the Novi residents supporting our operating and recreational millages,” Superintendent Ben Mainka said in a prepared statement. “Although these millages provided no increase for primary homeowners, the affirmative vote ensures the district will be able to levy the appropriate dollars to fund our amazing staff and programs we continue to offer here in Novi. The school and the community are intricately linked and we cannot do what we do without our great partnership.”

The district held the special election as its nonhomestead operating millage had been rolled back to less than the state’s required 18 mills ($18 per $1,000 of taxable value) on nonhomestead properties, such as second homes and business properties, to receive its full per pupil funding allotment from the state.

The millage was at 17.24 mills as a result of rollbacks under the Headlee Amendment. Under Headlee, if the assessed value of a local taxing jurisdiction increases by more than the inflation rate, the maximum property tax millage must be reduced so that the local jurisdiction’s total taxable property brings in the same gross revenue as adjusted for inflation.

In order to avoid a future shortfall, the millage passed Aug. 8 allows the district to collect 19 mills ($19 per $1,000) of nonhomestead property value from 2023-2033. The extra 1 mill is to be used to offset future rollbacks, and the district will never collect more than 18 mills. The 1-mill cushion was meant to ensure that the district would not have to take the issue back to the voters within the proposal’s 11-year period.

Historically, there has been a slight rollback in the millage annually from 0.01 in 2016 to as high as 0.23 in 2018. The recent rollback would have cost the district $750,000 annually had the millage failed.

“This will have no increase to our current homeowners as primary residents,” Mainka said during an April board meeting.

“It does restore the rate of millage that has been levied for many, many years in this district before it had been eroded,” Mainka said.

After the vote Aug. 8, the recreational millage has now been renewed for a period of 10 years, 2023 to 2033, at the rate it had fallen to of 0.9365 mills. The millage was originally 0.98 mills.

According to Mainka, the school district is able to function fine at the lower rate and therefore it did not seek to return to the previous rate.

“This is a millage that this community has supported for a long time that’s allowed us to have the facilities that we have. So our athletic fields, our playgrounds, our community tennis courts, our pool and auditorium, our future activity and recreational spaces and investments. This millage really allows us to be able to support the operations of those facilities and for our community,” Mainka said at the April meeting. “There is no increase. So, we are not asking for more. We are just asking for it to be maintained.”

“I think it’s important that we access all the funds that are allotted to us so that we have funding to take care of our playgrounds and our recs,” school board President Danielle Ruskin said after going to the polls Aug. 8. “Much of the general fund is used for people and personnel and things like that, so in order to maintain the facilities and keep our playgrounds and our buildings and things up to speed, it’s important that we levy this money.”

This election was for residents living in the Novi Community School District. That included the 26,274 registered voters in precincts 1-7, 14, 15, 18-21 and 23.

According to the official results, the operational mileage passed 2,709 to 1,933. The recreational mileage passed by a vote of 3,069 to 1,584. A total of 4,664 of the 26,274 eligible registered voters participated in the election, for a turnout of 17.75%. The majority of voters were absentee.

“I saw the issues on the ballot and it clearly concerns the families living in Novi. So, I think it’s important for us to participate and provide our portion of the feedback so that the right decisions are taken,” Ravi Ramamurthy said of his decision to vote in the election.

“Basically, my wife reminded me to go vote,’ joked Hiri Udupa.

“My thing is if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. That’s my philosophy,” said Ragunath Aerabati. “Do your civic duty.”

Aerabati also brought his 12 year-old son, Varun, with him to underscore the importance of voting. Varun said he learned that voting is important and what a milage is.

“It’s about taxes and, like, school property and stuff,” Varun, who will soon start sixth grade, said.

City Clerk Cortney Hanson said it is typical to have a low voter turnout for these types of elections. She said that voters turn out more for mayoral, presidential and City Council elections.

“I’d say it’s just about where we were anticipating, because it was a school millage and not all of the precincts were participating,” Hanson said.