Royal Oak voters will decide school district millage restoration proposal

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published October 25, 2016


ROYAL OAK — Voters at the polls Nov. 8 will be asked whether or not they support a millage restoration proposal benefiting Royal Oak Schools.

If voters follow through to the last item on the second side of the general election ballot, they will see the proposal asking them to restore an 18-mill operating levy on non- homestead properties previously authorized and levied.

School officials said that since 1994, voters in Royal Oak have supported the nonhomestead millage renewal. It was last approved in 2013 with more than 70 percent in favor.

“For owner-occupied residences, this has no impact whatsoever,” said Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin. “The fact that nonhomestead and homestead properties are taxed differently is something that is a legacy of Proposal A from back in 1994.”

The nonhomestead millage is collected only on properties other than owner-occupied residential homes. Nonhomestead taxable property comprises primarily business, commercial and rental properties.

The limitation on the amount of taxes that may be imposed on taxable nonhomestead property would be 0.8 mills — or 80 cents on each $1,000 of taxable value — for five years from 2016 to 2020.

A “yes” vote would authorize restoring the levy to the full 18 mills for general operating purposes, which has been reduced by 0.1566 mills by application of the Headlee Amendment and would increase the prior authority by .6434 mills in the event of future Headlee Rollbacks of the same amount.

Lewis-Lakin said that funding levels for local school districts are established by the state, and in order to receive the full funding permitted, local districts are required to collect 18 mills on nonhomestead property.

“If we don’t collect the full 18 mills on nonhomestead property, then the district forfeits its right to collect its full per-pupil dollar amount, as established by the state,” he said.

If the millage restoration passes, the district would receive its full $8,758 per-pupil foundation allowance.

School officials said that without approval, Royal Oak Schools would lose more than $132,000 in funding for the 2016-17 school year, and this amount of lost funding could increase in subsequent years.

“There is a message to resident homeowners saying, ‘This is about nonhomestead. This does not impact it. Please vote yes; we need your support,’” Lewis-Lakin said. “But I also want to be honest with businesses and say it’s real important for our community to keep this at 18 mills.

“So, if you’re a resident homeowner and it doesn’t affect you, but you also have rental properties or a business, this is important.”

The Royal Oak Schools Board of Education approved placing the millage restoration proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot back in June.

“We have strong community and citizen support for our schools, so I’m hopeful that they will understand this and support it,” Lewis-Lakin said.

There is no known opposition group to this restoration proposal.