Voters to decide two Novi Community School District millage proposals Aug. 8

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published July 12, 2023

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NOVI — In order to avoid a financial shortfall in the 2023-24 school year, the Novi Community School District is having a special election Aug. 8. On the ballot are both the district’s operating millage and its recreational millage.

“We have fallen behind in our nonhomestead operating millage, which is significant in what we can be able to do for our students and our staff and compensate people, and all those things,” district Superintendent Ben Mainka said during the regular school board meeting April 20. “The funds that this does support can be used in those operating costs. So we want to make sure we are levying the appropriate amount of dollars that the state allows.”


Operating millage proposal
The district operating millage has been rolled back under the Headlee Amendment to below the state’s required 18 mills ($18 per $1,000 of taxable value) on nonhomestead properties, such as second homes and business properties. The state requires that each school district collect 18 mills in order to continue to collect its full per pupil allowance. If this millage proposal should not pass, the district is set to lose approximately $750,000 annually for the next 10 years or until it resumes collection of the 18-mill levy.

Under Headlee, if the assessed value of a local taxing jurisdiction increases by more than the inflation rate, the maximum property tax millage must be reduced so that the local jurisdiction’s total taxable property brings in the same gross revenue as adjusted for inflation.

“That millage rate has been eroded, so as property values go up, that millage rate erodes. So, that means we are not levying — like most other districts in the state — the 18 mills and getting the funding for our students,” Mainka said.

The district’s operating millage is currently sitting at 17.24 mills after rollbacks and is estimated to fall to 17.153 next year. The district is asking its residents to pass a millage allowing the district to collect 19 mills ($19 per $1,000) of nonhomestead property value from 2023-2033. The 19 mills includes an extra 1 mill to allow the district to offset future shortages. The district will never be able to collect more than 18 mills, but the extra 1 mill will prevent the district from taking the issue back to the voters within the proposal’s 11-year period.  Historically, there has been a slight rollback in the millage annually from 0.01 in 2016 to as high as 0.23 in 2018.

“Rollbacks can start off borderline. You’re seeing a fraction of a mill coming off (0.02 in 2015), but there’s two factors that are happening: one, you’re not able to levy those 18 mills, but then also your taxable value increases, so that number, that multiple, increases with both of those factors. So, as the years go on it becomes a bigger and bigger problem, and now it’s a problem we need to solve,” Devin Kling, NCSD assistant superintendent of business and operations, said at the April 20 meeting. “We’re funded with property taxes and money through state aid. Well, that state aid is funded, and they are betting that we are collecting all 18 mills. So because we have this rollback, we are not made whole because of it.

“This total amount is nearing $4 million and will exceed $4 million by next year in cumulative revenue that we could have obtained over the last several years, and so we want to correct that,” said Mainka during the meeting.

“Cumulative over the last several years,” clarified Kling.

“This will have no increase to our current homeowners as primary residents,” Mainka said. “This isn’t a taxpayer increase. It does restore the rate of millage that has been levied for many, many years in this district before it had been eroded.”


Recreation millage renewal
The recreational millage proposal seeks to renew the millage for a period of 10 years, 2024 to 2033, at the rate it has fallen to of 0.9365 mills. The millage had originally been 0.98.

According to Mainka, the school district is able to function fine at that rate and so it is not seeking to return to the previous rate, but to maintain its current levy.

“This is a millage that this community has supported for a long time that’s allowed us to have the facilities that we have. So our athletic fields, our playgrounds, our community tennis courts, our pool and auditorium, our future activity and recreational spaces and investments. This millage really allows us to be able to support the operations of those facilities and for our community,” said Mainka. “There is no increase. So, we are not asking for more. We are just asking for it to be maintained.”


August election overview
This election is only for residents living in the Novi Community School District. That would be the 26,239 registered voters in precincts 1-7, 14, 15, 18-21, and 23.

“This is only about half of what we normally do, because it’s not the full city voting and it’s just Novi schools voting,” Novi City Clerk Cortney Hanson said.

Hanson said she is not anticipating a large turnout for this election.

“Traditionally, these kind of school elections do not bring out a big crowd,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s because they are not expecting an election in August (in an) odd year. You know people know about the primary in August in presidential and governor years, but I don’t think they’re expecting this, so they’re not looking for the information.”

According to Hanson, the city had sent out 4,079 absentee ballots for the Aug. 8 election as of July 10. Absentee ballots can be mailed out until Aug. 4, after which an absentee ballot can be picked up in person at the Clerk’s Office in City Hall. The last day to acquire an absentee ballot is Aug. 7. On that day, absentee ballots must be filled out on-site and must be requested no later than 4 p.m.

The polls will open for in-person voting at 7 a.m. Aug. 8 and will close at 8 p.m. that day.  There are 14 precincts voting at 12 locations in this election. Voters will vote at their usual precinct location.