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FSD Voters to face three millage questions, slate of board candidates
The 2014 general election has plenty of implications for state residents as well as those residing in Saginaw County.
However, the Frankenmuth School District’s board race and three millage questions are a big part of the back side of the ballot.
The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 4, with the polls open 7am until 8pm.
Frankenmuth City and Frankenmuth Township voters will be joined by parts of eight other townships in choosing four Frankenmuth School District board members from a slate of seven candidates. Two of the millage questions are renewals; the other is a new proposal for a 1.5 mill increase.
The FSD includes portions of Arbela, Birch Run, Blumfield, Buena Vista, Denmark and Tuscola townships, in addition to Frankenmuth city and township. Denmark and Tuscola are in Tuscola County.
The current FSD Board of Education includes President Scott Zimmer, Vice-President Lori Ettema, Treasurer Kevin Maurer, Secretary Dan Wortman and Trustees David Harris, Karen Uebler and Al Zehnder.
The terms for Zimmer, Ettema and Uebler end December 31, 2016. The terms for Maurer, Wortman, Harris and Zehnder expire at the end of 2014. Zehnder is not seeking re-election while Maurer, Wortman and Harris are incumbents on the November 4 ballot.
The four challengers are Joelle Abke, Frank Kotch, Brandon Muller and Dwight Wesley Mayo. The election is critical as there is a mathematical chance that four of the seven school board seats could have newcomers in place come January, 2015.
The three proposals are separate, but are related as they will impact district funding for the next five years. They include renewal of 18 mill Non-Homestead for five years, renewal of a .5 mill sinking fund for five years and a new, 1.5 mill sinking fund for five years.
What is a mill? A mill or millage rate is essentially a property tax rate expressed by the amount of tax per $1,000. The mills or millage rate is multiplied by the assessed value of the property and then divided by 1,000.
For example, a property with an assessed value of $50,000 located in a city with a mill rate of 20 mills would have a property tax of $1,000 per year.
The 18-mill Non-Homestead renewal has been in effect here for many years. In Michigan, all public school districts receive a majority of their funding on a per-pupil basis. Count Day, which recently took place, tallies the number of students, kindergarten through 12th grade. The current per-pupil allowance for Frankenmuth is $7,524.
A non-Homestead levy is assessed on industrial and commercial properties as well as “second homes” which are not the voter’s main residence, such as a cabin up north.
This revenue comes from two sources. One is local, where the 18 mills is collected on Non-Homestead property. The second source is state revenue collected from the School State Aid Fund.
Of the $7,524 per pupil received by the FSD, approximately $3,587 comes from the state, while the remaining 52.4 percent ($3,937) is generated from the 18-mill Non-Homestead levy. Combined, these two sources raise nearly $11 million to fund the district’s operating costs.
The estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2015 is approximately $2,698,438.
The .5 mill for building and site use was first approved as a 10-year sinking fund in 1965. Dollars generated from this fund were used for urgent repairs and improvement to the property; it cannot be used for educational purposes.
When it expired in 1975, the FSD board asked voters to consider a .5 mill sinking fund levy for five years to maintain infrastructure. For the past 35 years, the voters have passed the renewal millage.
Over nearly 50 years, the sinking fund has kept all the district’s buildings in good repair more energy efficient. The half-mill generates about $220,000 per year. This past summer, nearly all of that amount was used to replace the lights and wood poles installed on the football field complex in the 1960s.
Overall, the district maintains 264,805 square feet of buildings and 112 acres of ground. Since 1965, several projects have been completed. Some of the more recent ones include installation of security systems, lighting improvements and the addition of energy-saving light sensors in all buildings carpet replacement district wide, new tennis courts (originally built in 1976), renovation of the E.F. Rittmueller Middle School cafeteria as well as the EFR gymnasium, replacement of 60 of the 90 original steel doors campus wide, roof replacements, parking lot upgrades at all buildings and much more.
The 1.5 mill increase will target critical projects that need to be tackled in 2015 or 2016.
The No. 1 priority are the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment and temperature controls at Rittmueller School. This original equipment was installed in 1978 when EFR was built and is 35 years old.
The FHS HVAC equipment is over 25 years old and is also considered a high priority as both projects are considered directly related to health and safety.
An estimated $1.6 million would be needed to renovate both heating and cooling systems. The district administrators have already consulted with HVAC consultants to develop a comprehensive and efficient way to update and maintain such systems.
Other needed repairs and updates include renovation of the original common area restrooms at all three schools, renovations of the FHS gym balcony and locker rooms built in 1972, updating the high school media center, also built in 1972; expanding the cafeteria and stage area at FHS, renovating the original 1953 FHS wood shop, replacing classroom cabinetry in the 1961 section of List Elementary School and more.
The median home value in Frankenmuth is $150,000. The 1.5 mill increase will cost the median homeowner $2.17 per week or 31 cents a day. If passed and levied in 2015, this 1.5 mill will generate approximately $667,002.
For more information, visit www.frankenmuth.k12.mi.us.