Royal Oak Schools operating millage passes overwhelmingly

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published November 4, 2020

 According to unofficial election results, voters approved a Royal Oak Schools operating millage proposal in the Nov. 3 election. Officials estimate the first year of the levy will generate $23 million for the district’s general operations.

According to unofficial election results, voters approved a Royal Oak Schools operating millage proposal in the Nov. 3 election. Officials estimate the first year of the levy will generate $23 million for the district’s general operations.

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ROYAL OAK — By approximately 9 a.m. Nov. 4, the city of Royal Oak had tallied 100% of absentee ballots and ballots received at its 27 precincts throughout the approximately 12-square-mile city and sent the results to Oakland County.

According to unofficial election results, the Royal Oak Schools operating millage proposal passed overwhelmingly, with 64.95% — or 23,158 votes — for the proposal and 35.05% — or 12,495 votes — against it.

Given approval by voters, the district will restore and extend two millages — a non-homestead millage rate of 18 mills and a hold harmless millage — for a period of 10 years. Officials estimate the first year of the levy will generate $23 million for the district’s general operations.

The funds provide 46% of the district’s budget, supporting its efforts to provide comprehensive curriculum and educational opportunities to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Kathy Abela, executive director of finance and operations for Royal Oak Schools, said the hold harmless millage equates to $229.02 per year for every $100,000 of taxable value, and the non-homestead millage equates to $1,800 per year for $100,000 of taxable value.

The non-homestead 18 mills is levied on non-homestead properties, or those primarily used for business, industrial or residential rental properties. The hold harmless millage, a subset of the 18 mills, is levied on primary residences. The district currently collects 2.2902 mills based on 5,200 students and the current tax base.

“If we do not collect this revenue through these millages, we will be forced to make cuts,” Abela said in a prior interview. “Some of those cuts may include program cuts, increased class sizes, layoffs and service cuts.”

Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick said the millages enable Royal Oak Schools to provide opportunities for students such as the International Baccalaureate program, career-focused education classes, foreign language, Advanced Placement classes and more.

If the proposal failed, she said, the district would lose $4,220 of revenue per student of its $9,118 foundation allowance at 2019-20 levels.

Both of the millages have been in place since 1994. The district’s operating millages were last approved in 2013, with a small non-homestead-only override approved in 2016. The current millage expired with the 2020 tax levy.

“We want to thank the Royal Oak community for restoring and extending the non-homestead millage, which will allow us to continue providing a high quality education to all Royal Oak Schools students,” Fitzpatrick said in a prepared statement Nov. 4. “Our core mission is preparing all Royal Oak Schools students for their lives and jobs of the future and passage of this proposal will support our students, teachers and staff in carrying out this mission.” 

Royal Oak Clerk Melanie Halas said her office saw a drastic increase in absentee voting — more than 20,000 compared to a total of 9,024 absentee ballots in 2016.

Of the votes cast for the operating millage proposal, residents cast 16,158 absentee votes and 7,000 votes at the polls for the proposal, while residents cast 7,403 absentee votes and 5,092 votes at the polls against the proposal, according to unofficial election results.

For more information, visit royaloakschools.org or call (248) 435-8400.

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