VDPS places sinking fund proposal on May 8 ballot

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published February 9, 2018

WARREN — Van Dyke Public Schools district officials will place a sinking fund proposal on the May 8 ballot.

Voters are asked to consider a 1-mill, 10-year sinking fund that — if it passes — will generate money for building, security and technology improvements throughout the district.

If it passes, the sinking fund will generate approximately $354,000 in revenue per year for the next 10 years to fund safety and security needs, building and site repairs and enhancements, and technology upgrades.

In 2008, Van Dyke voters passed a $62.6 million bond that made various improvements throughout the district. The sinking fund will be used to maintain those enhancements.

“Our community did pass the bond and we were able to make significant improvements,” Superintendent Piper Bognar said. “We want to be able to maintain our buildings to those same standards. The sinking fund allows us to do that without using our general fund dollars. It allows us to use the general fund money for students and programming.”

According to school officials, a sinking fund is a limited property tax for funding building maintenance and infrastructure projects. Taxes are levied each year. Annual audits are completed to confirm compliance with the Michigan Department of Treasury’s guidelines. A sinking fund cannot be used for employee salaries, preventive maintenance or general operating costs.

If voters approve the sinking fund, the tax rate will increase by 1 mill, or $1 per $1,000 in taxable value on your home. For example, a person with a home with a market value of $50,000 that has a taxable value of $25,000 will pay $25 per year should the sinking fund pass. As another example, for a home that has a market value of $100,000 with a taxable value of $50,000, the homeowner will pay $50 per year for 10 years should the sinking fund pass.

District Director of Finance Andrea Agrusa said the 1 mill won’t change over the 10 years of the sinking fund, but the value of a home could change. If a homeowner whose home is worth $50,000 increases in taxable value, that homeowner could end up paying a few dollars more per year under the sinking fund.

Because of decreased shared revenue from the state, Van Dyke has lost $4.5 million in funding in the past 10 years, Bognar and Agrusa said.

If the sinking fund passes, it could be used for parking lot improvements, security upgrades including new security cameras and the upgrade of others, building repairs, roofing, mechanical upgrades, flooring, playground safety improvements, and technology upgrades across Van Dyke.

“We do have a list of some projects that need attention right now,” Bognar said. “That list continues to grow. That’s why we went for a sinking fund. If it does not pass, we’ll have to look at how we’re going to maintain our buildings and maintain our security.”

If the millage does not pass, the district’s primary source of funding — the general fund — will be used for projects and updates. School officials are working to provide information about the sinking fund to the public.

“We plan to talk to as many people as we can in the community,” Bognar said. “I plan to get to each school and to community events to speak to groups of people. Our family and community has always been so supportive.”

If the sinking fund passes, Agrusa said it will go into effect July 1. Van Dyke has a total enrollment of approximately 2,500 students.

For more information on the sinking fund, contact Superintendent Piper Bognar at (586) 758-8333 or visit the district’s website at www.vdps.net.