Thursday, March 18, 2021

School trustees consider sinking fund millage

Members of the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education are expected to decide next Monday whether to place a sinking fund millage on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The current sinking fund millage, set at .4917 of a mill, generates about $873,000 in tax revenue annually which can only be used for site improvements and building renovations. It will expire in 2022. 

While the district currently has building repair and improvement plans for the next three years, the anticipated sinking fund millage will fall short of the funding needed for the third year, explained Rob Kakoczki of Plante Moran CRESA during the meeting of the board members last week. He added that there is currently no funding balance for any emergency repairs included in those plans. The board members have approved a plan which includes projects costing $356,000 this year, $1,321,500 in 2022, and $2,020,000 in 2023.

Superintendent of Schools Pete Kudlak told the board members that Belleville High School is 11 years old and that the “mechanicals” in buildings throughout the district are also reaching a time when they may need replacement or repair. He said the goal of the sinking fund is to manage the repairs and replacements in school buildings without taking money from classrooms.

Kudlak also reminded the board members that the school millage in the Van Buren schools is lower than most other districts and could be increased and still remain among the lowest in the area.

He urged the members of the board to talk to the public about the possible ballot question. He suggested the board members be prepared to discuss and possibly vote on the issue during the meeting set for March 22.

 “Talk to your people,” Kudlak told the board members. “You all have people. That's how you get elected.” 

Wording for a sinking fund ballot question would have to be submitted by August and Kudlak suggested that it would be ideal to have a decision from the board by the end of March.

Any sinking fund millage approved by voters in the November 2021 election would not become effective until the end of 2023, officials noted.