Thursday, April 8, 2021

School district will not request millage on upcoming ballot

Members of the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education have decided against placing a Sinking Fund millage on the Nov. 2 ballot. Despite a previous request from Superintendent of Schools Pete Kudlack, the issue did not come to a vote of board members following a discussion of the proposal.

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 revenue 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 month.

He added that there is currently no funding balance for any emergency repairs included in those plans. The board has approved a plan which included projects costing $356,000 this year, $1,321,500 in 2022, and $2,020,000 in 2023.

At an earlier March meeting, 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. At the March 22 meeting, he told the board members that he had perhaps been "a little over eager" in proposing placing a new Sinking Fund on the November ballot and explained that waiting for another year to request the funding would allow the district keep the seven year promise made to voters.

An additional concern expressed by board President Ann Pearce was the cost to the district of the election since there is nothing else yet on that ballot. She also urged the board to abide by the seven year term of the current Sinking Fund promised to voters.

Kudlak agreed and noted that the board members did not need a vote on his earlier proposal.