HANCOCK/CALUMET - Both the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw and Hancock Public Schools districts are seeking millage renewals May 6, and the superintendents are urging voters to get to the polls and support the millages.
Monica Healy, Hancock Public Schools superintendent, said it's important voters understand the district is seeking a renewal of the current three-year 18 mill operating levy, which will expire in July, and not a new tax.
"We're asking for a five-year (millage) this time," she said.
The millage is for non-homestead property, Healy said, including rental property, second or vacation homes, business and commercial property.
"It's not for primary residences," she said.
Healy said the district is also seeking an additional 1 mill to be used only if there is a Headlee rollback. School districts can't levy more than 18 mills, so the 1 mill would be levied only if there is a Headlee rollback.
This is the wording of the Headlee Amendment passed in 1978: "The Headlee rollback factor is a result of the Headlee amendment of 1978, which included a provision that a community's total tax base should not increase faster than the inflation rate (after adjusting for new property additions or losses). The Headlee implementing legislation rolls back the maximum authorized millage rate for each taxing jurisdiction, to the extent that the total tax base increases more than the rate of inflation."
For instance, Healy said if a Headlee rollback reduced the operating millage to 17.5 mills, .5 of the other 1 mill, if approved by voters would be used to restore the 18 mills.
The 18 mill and 1 mill are separate questions on the ballot, Healy said.
Healy said the 18 mill levy generates about $940,000 for the district. The state allows the district $7,026 in aid per pupil, but the state provides only $5,891 per pupil. The remaining $1,135 comes from the district's 18 mill levy.
Healy said if the millage isn't approved by voters, the district would have to look at cutting programs and staff.
"When you lose 16 percent of your budget, you're going to have to cut if you don't have it," she said.
Healy said there will be an informational meeting about the millage proposal at 5:30 p.m. May 5 in the district board room in the middle school building.
Since the district has been seeking operating millages, Healy said none have been turned down by voters.
"We've got wonderful community support," she said.
Darryl Pierce, C-L-K superintendent, said the current 10-year non-homestead 18 millage, which is approximately 12 percent, or about $1.7 million, of the district budget, will expire in December. It brings the district $1,163.64 per pupil, with $5,862.36 per-pupil coming from the state.
The district is seeking a renewal and restoration of the 18 mills for 10-years, Pierce said.
Pierce said as with all school districts, the 18-mill operating levy is extremely important for the district.
"This kind of reduction would directly affect the students and programs that we offer here at C-L-K," he said. "(Not having the 18 mills) would most definitely mean we would have to make cuts," he said.
In the last five or six years, Pierce said the district has made cuts because of reductions in the amount of per-pupil aid from the state. The highest aid amount from the state for both C-L-K and Hancock districts was $7,316 in 2009, 2001 and 2011.
Pierce said community support for the district is strong, and he's urging voters get to the polls May 6 to vote for the operating millage.
"This is a very important election for the students of the C-L-K school district," he said.