The following was submitted to White Lake Patch by Huron Valley School's Interim Superintendent Jim Baker.
In 1993, Michigan voters approved Proposal A, which dramatically changed how Michigan schools are funded. Proposal A was intended to accomplish two goals: Lower the property tax burden on homeowners and stabilize funding for schools by closing the gap between low-funded and high-funded districts. While there is no consensus on whether or not Proposal A was successful, it did reduce the frequency of millage campaigns.
Thus, as a result of Proposal A, Huron Valley Schools is required to periodically ask voters in the District to renew the non-homestead portion of its millage. The State of Michigan expects school districts to levy the 18 mills on non-homestead property as a component of what schools receive in per pupil funding. This is a tax that is paid by owners of commercial and industrial property and those who own second homes. Non-homestead property taxes are not levied upon a homeowner’s primary residence. Therefore, residents of the Huron Valley School District who own one home in the District, do not pay this tax.
The non-homestead property taxes represent approximately $9 million or 10 percent of the school district’s budget. To offer some perspective, this amount of revenue is essentially the cost of operating one of our high schools annually. Further perspective is provided when we consider what might have to be eliminated if we failed to have the millage renewed by voters--such as all athletics (approximately $750,000) or transportation ($2.4 million). Even with all transportation and athletics, we would only scratch of the surface of what we would be facing in terms of cuts.
Over the past month or so, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with members of our business community. I’m grateful that the vast majority of those I’ve spoken with are supportive of our schools and understand that a vital, successful school district contributes to a robust economic environment. They recognize that good schools are an essential component of any community that hopes to thrive. When schools and businesses have a strong relationship both parties benefit, and ultimately, the community is more prosperous.
It is important for me to stress three important points: 1) This is a renewal of the 18 mills that has previously been levied on commercial and industrial property and second homes; 2) Homeowners are not subject to this tax on their primary residence; and 3) The revenue from non-homestead taxes equals 10 percent of the school district’s budget.
Needless to say, November 6 is an important date for Huron Valley Schools. We have been extremely fortunate to have been widely supported by our community in past elections, and I am hopeful voters see the merits of this renewal when entering the voting booth in approximately one month. Be sure to visit our website at www.hvs.org for more information.