Southwestern Michigan College to go for lower millage

Published 10:40 am Wednesday, May 10, 2006

By Staff
DOWAGIAC - The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to place a .854 mill, 15-year millage request on the ballot for the upcoming Aug. 8 election.
According to College officials, repeated cuts in state support for SMC due to the State of Michigan budget crisis have resulted in state funding to the College now being below 1999 levels. Additionally, State funding during the upcoming academic year will also continue to be below 1999 levels.
According to Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Fred L. Mathews, "Because of these severe State funding cuts since 2001 and the millage defeats in the past year, the College made drastic cuts in non-educational programs. These cuts, plus significant tuition increases have streamlined the College and enhanced tuition revenue so this significantly lower millage request is possible. Reductions in spending by the College have been accomplished by restructuring, reorganization, program eliminations, and elimination of many non-educational community service activities. These reductions in spending, combined with tuition increases, allow the College to request only .854 mills. This .854 is just slightly more than half of the 1.5 mills previously requested by the College. If approved, this will bring the total millage to 3.362, which is only .362 of a mill more than the 3.0 mills previously authorized by the voters. This small millage is the minimum that is required to continue to keep the restructured SMC a comprehensive community college with the outstanding quality that our taxpayers have come to rightfully expect.
"Additionally," continued Chairman Mathews, "we have heard from hundreds of community members that they would support a millage increase that was limited in term, rather than perpetual. The Board of Trustees appreciates the strong community support for the College, and has incorporated this valuable community perspective in this millage proposal. The proposal approved tonight is for a limited-term millage for a period of 15 years, and will keep programs and facilities strong for the next generation of students."