Ballot contains updated school sinking fund verbiage

Published 9:56 am Thursday, April 20, 2017


The May 2 election is coming in like a lamb in Buchanan.

This cycle’s ballot contains a single item to vote on: an update to the language on Buchanan school’s current sinking fund millage proposal.

Last fall, state legislators passed Michigan House Bill 4388, which amended the wording associated with Buchanan’s current sinking fund millage.

The new language would allow Buchanan Community Schools to expand the areas in which sinking funds may be spent, specifically for security improvements and technology.

Andrea van der Laan

“[The updated sinking fund] is not going to cost citizens any additional money,” said Buchanan Board of Education President Harvey Burnett. “It’s just a matter of language updates and making sure that we have the technology in place to continue to make sure our schools are safe.”

Buchanan’s sinking fund, originally passed in May 2013, is subject to a clause in HB 4388 that requires any millage passed prior to the new bill be reintroduced to the voters to seek permission to use the funds in the newly added areas. If taxpayers vote yes there will be zero change to the amount of money available in the sinking fund and no increase to taxes. The schools will only be able to use currently taxed funds in new areas.

“[The sinking fund on the ballot] is not increasing tax money coming from our citizens,” Burnett said. “Basically, it’s a renewal. But [the updated millage will be] upgrading wordage so we can do additional things.”

Andrea van der Laan, superintendent of Buchanan Community Schools, pointed out that if the updated millage is passed, it would mean the schools would not have to wait for state funds before making improvements in the added areas.

“I think this [updated millage] will be beneficial to the school district because we’ll be able to upgrade computers and computer systems much faster than waiting for the state,” she said. “It would mean we [the schools] don’t have to take away from instructional funds [to pay for upgrades].”

Burnett does not want to count the chickens before they hatch, but he has a few upgrades in mind that the sinking fund money could be used for.

“Upgrading phone systems would be part of that process, or completing that [at schools],” Burnett said. “Camera systems would be upgraded, or added [to schools], so that they can interface and do some pretty good stuff.”

If voters say no, the current sinking fund will continue to truck along for its remaining eight years as it was approved in May 2013.

A majority vote is needed for the updated sinking fund to pass.

Absentee ballots are now being accepted by Buchanan City Clerk Gladys Bybee. A request for an absentee ballot must be submitted in writing to Bybee no later than 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29. Ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, May 2.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Buchanan City Hall, 302 N. Redbud Trail, and at Redbud City Center, 131 N. Oak St.

Voter information:

• Download a voter registration application at

• Register in person at the license branch, the clerk’s office, or city hall

• Visit to check your current voter registration status

• Absentee ballots may be downloaded at

• Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 2

• Buchanan voting precincts are located at city hall, 302 N. Redbud Trail, and at the Redbud City Center, 131 N. Oak St.