Monday, May 1, 2017

Ann Arbor Voters: Vote Yes Tuesday May 2, 2017

Did you know there was an election coming up this Tuesday, May 2nd? Well, there is. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Both Ann Arbor schools and Ypsilanti schools have proposals on the ballot. [So if you live in the school district, you need to vote. It's not about whether you live in the city.]

Find your polling place here.

For Ann Arbor, the question is whether to support a Sinking Fund Millage. This could be considered a renewal PLUS. It is an increase over what we have had recently, but it replaces a millage that we currently have. The millage would go from 1.0 to 2.5 mills. Under state law, sinking fund proceeds may not be used to pay teacher or administrator salaries. They are used to meet facility/physical building needs, and if we don't have the millage, that money gets taken from the general fund. 

I'm supporting this millage. 

I was leaning that way anyway, but I came to this as a definitive conclusion while I was sitting at a Recreation Advisory Commission meeting. I've been on the RAC for about two years, and we meet where Rec & Ed's offices are, on the "back" (S. Seventh) side of Pioneer High School. And here it is, February or March, and it is raining outside, I walk into a room where the tables have been moved from their usual spots, because in the usual spots there are buckets catching the rain from a leaking roof. Not one bucket. Many buckets.

[The whole bucket theme now has me singing to myself, "There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza/There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, my love/Then fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry/Then fix it dear Henry, dear Henry my love." And actually, maybe that's a good metaphor for the sinking fund, because the song continues, "With what shall I fix it...?"]

When Allen School flooded, the district exhausted its insurance and had to dip into the general fund. They have since "upped" their insurance coverage, but anytime you have to dip into the general fund, that is taking away from teachers and other staff and from stuff for kids.

A few weeks ago, at another Recreation Advisory Commission, sitting in the same room, this time there are no buckets. However, it is hot! I wish I could say that being hot (or cold) is an unusual experience for teachers and kids in the district, but the fact is--it's not! Go into many classrooms in September or June, and you will find the rooms well over 80 degrees. I don't think this is the easiest way for kids to learn!

Let's face it, buildings need to be renewed or they fall apart. I'd rather that money came from the sinking fund than the general fund, because the general fund supports teachers, and is constantly under threat from the state legislature.

So--I'm supporting the sinking fund millage. Do I agree with all of the proposed ideas for how to spend the money? Probably about 90% of them. That's good enough for me--I probably only agree with myself about 90% of the time!

If you live in the Ann Arbor school district, please vote Tuesday May 2, 2017.

You can read more!

1. Ann Arbor Public Schools Information Page

2. Ann Arbor Citizens Millage Committee Web Page

What Does The Ballot Proposal Say?

This proposal would replace and extend the authority last approved by voters in 2013 and which expires with the 2019 levy for the Public Schools of the City of Ann Arbor to levy a sinking fund millage.  This proposal would allow the use of proceeds of the millage for all purposes previously permitted by law as well as newly authorized security improvements. 
As a replacement of existing authority, shall the Public Schools of the City of Ann Arbor, County of Washtenaw, Michigan, be authorized to levy 2.50 mills ($2.50 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) to create a sinking fund for the purpose of the construction or repair of school buildings, including school security improvements, and the improvement and development of sites and, to the extent permitted by law, for other purposes, including, but not limited to, the acquisition and installation of furnishings and equipment, by increasing the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be imposed on taxable property in the School District for a period of ten (10) years, being the years 2017 to 2026, inclusive?  It is estimated that 2.50 mills ($2.50 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) would raise approximately $20,193,874 in the first year that it is levied. 
(Under state law, sinking fund proceeds may not be used to pay teacher or administrator salaries.)

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