Voters renew Berkley School District operating millage

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 11, 2022

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BERKLEY — An operating millage for the Berkley School District was renewed by voters in the May 3 election.

Voters in the Berkley School District, which includes the cities of Berkley, Huntington Woods and Oak Park, renewed the operating millage that will fund teacher salaries and other ongoing expenses for the schools.

Of the 3,866 votes cast for this contest, 3,339 people voted yes and 527 voted no. In total, 86.37% of voters supported the millage.

Deputy Superintendent for Finance, Facilities and Operations Larry Gallagher said the district was very happy about the approval, especially with 86% of voters supporting the millage.

“It may be obvious, but securing that $3.8 million (a year) to support our students and staff and our program is key,” he said. “The community’s supported us for a long time and they expect a lot from us, and I think our staff, our teachers and principals and tech, all of our support staff, do a decent job. This is going to help us continue that good work. So we are very happy. It’s a pretty good part of the budget moving forward.”

The millage, according to the ballot language, levied a rate not to exceed 18 mills on all property, “except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance and renews millage that will expire with the 2022 tax levy,” the ballot language read.

“Shall the currently authorized millage rate limitation of 19.4937 mills ($19.4937 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, in Berkley School District, Oakland County, Michigan, be renewed for a period of 10 years, 2023 to 2032, inclusive, to provide funds for operating purposes; the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and 18 mills are levied in 2023 is approximately $3,800,000 (this is a renewal of millage that will expire with the 2022 tax levy)?”

The millage was approved by voters in 2013 and renewed through a Headlee Restoration Millage in 2019, which will expire in May 2023. The 18 mills are levied 100% within the summer tax bill.

With the renewal taking effect in July 2023, Gallagher said this will be the last time the district will be levying this millage, as it will be expiring.

“That’s why any other millage or election date other than the one we just chose would have … called it an increase, even though it was technically a continuation, but … the fact is we’re levying the current millage one more time,” he said.

Voter turnout for the May election was low, with Berkley bringing 16% percent of registered voters to the polls and Huntington Woods almost 22%.

From the data that Huntington Woods City Clerk Heidi Barckholtz had, she stated that fewer than 350 people voted at the polls May 3, and about 800 to 900 voters used an absentee ballot.

Barckholtz said the turnout was low for the city, but fairly consistent with its turnout for last year’s May and November elections. She also stated that Huntington Woods is an absentee voting community.

“I have just close to 5,600 registered voters now, and we have 3,000 on the permanent absentee (Iist),” she said. “We had a much bigger AB turnout than we did in person, but it’s very easy in the city (to vote). You know, you can walk in here (at City Hall) and grab a ballot and drop it off at your convenience and you’re not having to go all over some big city. People just utilize it.”