Voters pass RCS non-homestead operating millage renewal

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 28, 2024

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ROCHESTER — Voters in the Rochester Community Schools district hit the polls Feb. 27 to decide on the renewal of a non-homestead school operating millage, with the measure passing by 74%, according to unofficial election results from Oakland and Macomb counties.

The proposal asked voters whether to renew 18.5004 mills and restore 0.5 mill eroded by the Headlee Amendment — for a total of 19.0004 mills — for a period of five years.

The millage proposal ultimately passed with 18,459 yes votes to 6,478 no votes in Macomb and Oakland counties.

District officials said the approval enables the district to receive its full per-pupil foundation allowance and restore millage lost as a result of the Headlee Amendment.

“Great schools are the foundation of a great community. It’s truly in the best interest of our students, staff, families, business and community partners to make certain that the district continues to receive its full foundation allowance set by the state. This funding ensures resources are available to provide the highest quality public education possible,” interim Superintendent John Silveri said in a statement.

Under the school aid funding formula set by Proposal A in 1994, the state of Michigan assumes that the district collects 18 mills — $18 in taxes for every $1,000 of taxable value — on non-homestead property annually. Non-homestead property includes business real property, rental homes, vacant land, second homes and commercial personal property, including business equipment and furnishings. The tax is not collected on owned primary residences; however, it is required to be approved by the school district’s voters. All school districts in Michigan must levy 18 mills on non-homestead property to receive their full foundation allowance from the state.

Although the Feb. 27 ballot language asked for a renewal of 18.5004 mills, along with an increase of 0.5 mill, only 18 mills will be levied, Silveri explained. District officials said the total 1.0004 mills above 18 mills will be used to offset potential Headlee rollbacks, which can reduce the millage rate to adjust for inflation.

For Rochester Community Schools, this levy ensures the district maintains its current full per-pupil revenue of $9,608. If the millage proposal did not pass, officials said, RCS per-pupil funding would have fallen to $8,060, for a loss of approximately $24.5 million per year or 10.7% of current budgeted general fund revenues.

The district general fund covers things like salaries and benefits, safety and security, custodial and grounds, supplies, transportation, athletics and more.

“As we look to the future, we will continue to be strategic in our efforts to be good stewards of district revenue. Each year we plan a budget that is sustainable, promotes growth, is open and transparent, and supports quality student programs and services,” Matthew McDaniel, assistant superintendent of business operations, said in a statement.

Since the passage of Proposal A in 1994, the district has sought approval of this millage three times, in 1995, 2005 and 2014. The current 10-year millage was approved by voters in 2014.

For more information, visit the district website at