Archived Story

Niles school board asks residents to renew tax levy

Published 9:07am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Voters will be asked this August to approve the renewal of an operating millage that will provide Niles Community Schools with about $3 million in annual revenue.

Interim Supt. Michael Lindley said this particular millage is levied on non-homestead property only — meaning land and buildings not designated as someone’s residence. That could be business property, rental property and vacation homes. This accounts for about 9 percent of the district’s budget.

“We would be in extreme difficulty immediately if we can’t levy those taxes come January,” he said. “If we lose 8 or 9 percent of our money, we are looking at cutting programs, maybe consolidating services — a wide variety of things. You can’t take an 8 or 9 percent cut and survive that. We don’t have that much money in reserves.”

On Monday, the Niles school board voted to place the operating millage on the Aug. 5 primary ballot.

The school’s operating millage is set to expire in 2014. The renewal would be for a period of 10 years.

“In order for us to re-levy that we need to get permission from the voters,” he said. “It’s not a tax increase. It’s a renewal.”

If it doesn’t pass, Lindley said the district would place the renewal on the November ballot.

“Very few school districts don’t renew these because they truly are renewals and most people understand that, but we will be educating the public over the next several months,” he said. “It’s important that people get out and vote in the primary.”

The operating millage is for the same levy rate — 18.5 mills.

Lindley said residents would be paying the same as before on non-homestead properties unless their taxable evaluation has changed.

Also Monday, the board voted to allow Northside Child Development Center to apply for a grant of up to $750,000 that would allow the school to move to a balanced calendar, also referred to as year-round school.

Lindley said applying for the grant wouldn’t bind the school to the balanced calendar. That would happen when the school accepted the funds.

“If we get into it and find out parents don’t support it and there are too many strings attached, we could cancel,” he said.

The balanced calendar program would be a three-year pilot program only at Northside. Lindley said the idea behind it is that students lose less information when they take shorter breaks.

“If it is something that we think is really beneficial and our community buys into it and supports it we would look at expanding it to other schools,” he said.

The grant is an incentive included in a supplemental budget bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this month. The deadline for the grant application is May 1.

Also Monday, the district accepted a bid of $188,000 from Hoekstra Roofing, of Kalamazoo, to fix sections of the roofs on Niles High School and Ring Lardner Middle School.

Work will begin this summer.

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