FLINT TWP. — Officials in Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools want voters to see that a proposed 1-mill increase in the district’s sinking fund and a Headlee Amendment override will not only provide improved safety and security for students and staff, but it will also be an investment to homeowners.
Carman-Ainsworth will ask voters May 7 to approve a 1-mill increase in the district’s sinking fund, potentially generating $750,000 a year from 2019 to 2023; and a Headlee Amendment override not to exceed 2.1314 mills that will generate $45,000 a year for the same period.
Superintendent Eddie Kindle said security concerns are the reason for the need for a sinking fund increase, citing the district’s plans to install more than 300 quick action locks on classrooms throughout Carman- Ainsworth’s school buildings.
“You can’t put a price tag on the value of safety,” said Kindle. “We wanted a universal device for classrooms and offices. This is our best attempt at a safety enhancement anyone can utilize.”
Kindle said Guardian SSI has come up with a quick action lock. The most important aspect of a quick action lock, he said, is anyone can execute the lock, which is as simple as pressing a red button. This would provide an additional lock for each door with a deadbolt.
Furthermore, Kindle said if they must evacuate, opening the door is as quick as reacting the door handle.
Also planned with passage of a sinking fund millage increase is updates and repaving of the district’s deteriorating parking lots, specifically the lot at Carman-Ainsworth High School.
“We do a good job with patch and repair on a regular basis,” Kindle said of the district’s parking lots. “We need to resurface the parking lot and add more adequate lighting throughout our campuses.”
Tom Wickham, a parent who has been helping get the word out about the upcoming millage election, said he has been involved in many activ- ities and as a marching band parent he’s seen the deterioration of the high school parking lot, first hand.
“When we practice in the parking lot, when we’re getting ready in the fall, the conditions are not the best,” he said. “The pavement in crumbling and cracked and the lighting is bad.”
When people come to use Carman- Ainsworth’s facilities, Kindle said the district wants the property to be safe and secure.
“It’s a benefit to the community,” he said. “Not just to students, faculty and staff.”
Also thought the sinking fund, Kindle said there are plans to add a double door entry system to Carman- Ainsworth High School, the only building in the district that currently does not have such a security feature.
Voters approved the current 18-mill operating millage and 0.5-mill sinking fund in 2004 and renewed them in 2013. However, since 2004, officials said revenue has decreased by nearly 30 percent; that means the district receives $141,000 less today than it did in 2004.
Currently the district levies a ½ mill for the sinking fund, generating $350,000-400,000 annually.
If approved, the one mill increase would take a home valued at $150,000, with a taxable value of $75,000, and would assess the owner an additional $75 a year, or 21 cents per day, said Kindle.
The second issue on the May 7 ballot is a Headlee Amendment override. Parks said the current operating millage is 18-mills, but the district currently does not receive the full amount because the rate is reduced when annual growth on existing property is greater than the rate of inflation, due to the Headlee Override Proposition.
A Headlee override will return the millage to the 18 mills originally authorized by the community. Restoring the levy to the full 18 mills could generate an additional $45,000 a year, said Assistant Superintendent Russ Parks.
Carman-Ainsworth has 18 mills, that generates approximately $6,450,000 in revenue, but in 2018, a Headlee Override reduced mills by .1314, losing $45,000 in revenue, he said.
When Michigan voters approve Proposal A in 1994, it established a statutory rate of 18 mills for non-homestead, that goes directly to the schools. This is assessed only on businesses, rental properties and vacation homes.
Parks said in 2018, the district had a Headlee Override – which happens when taxable values go up over the rate of inflation. The override is a rollback on the rate of inflation. This rollback caused the reduction in the 18 mills, thus creating a $45,000 loss in revenue.
With the May 7 election, the district is proposing the millage be set at 20 mills – which gives it the rolled back amount of 17.8686 mills, plus 2.1314 mills to equal 20 mills. This way, when a rollback happens it comes off the 20 mills, then Proposal A sets the millage at the 18-mill cap — making it so Carman-Ainsworth schools keeps the $45,000 annually it would lose due to the Headlee Amendment.
“When the inflation rate goes up, it means the economy is getting better,” said Parks. “We could have another Headlee override next year, which would mean the loss of another $45,000-$50,000. Obviously, if we keep doing that, that’s some significant dollars.”
Parks said by asking to go above 18 mills, the district won’t have to keep going back to the people for a vote to override the Headless Amendment, to ask for a vote. Regardless of how high that millage amount is set, by law the district can only collect the maximum of 18-mills.