Millage voted down, metro Detroit man starts grassroots campaing to raise funds

Posted at 7:00 AM, May 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 17:31:22-04

A millage that would have brought repairs to Algonac Community Schools was narrowly voted down in the latest election, but money is still being raised.

Jim Neumann, a grocer on Harsens Island, voted yes. Now, Neumann is preparing to put his money where his mouth is.

According to Neumann, he’s going to pay the same amount he would have if the millage had passed — he wants to donate the money, or start a fund for the school. He’s still working on the exact details.

Neumann’s challenging others to do the same as he’s organizing a grassroots group to come up with the best way to give the money back to local schools.

“We’re just trying to do right by the kids,” explained Neumann.

Neumann isn’t a rich guy — he wishes he could give more, but he said he’ll do his part in order to encourage others.

“I went to private schools as a kid,” said Neumann, “but my parents always voted yes when it came to schools.”

He said that if you lose schools, you lose the community. Truthfully, there is hope that a millage isn’t far off for the Algonac School District. It was predicted that the latest plan would pass, but it fell short by roughly 30 votes. It was the second time in as many years that the sinking fund failed during a public vote, but it also picked up a lot of support from vote to vote.

The plan the voters turned down would have created a 10-year sinking fund that would have raised a $100,000 home owners’ taxes by roughly $8.33 per month. The plan would have brought upgrades to the Algonac Junior and Senior High building, Algonquin and Hillside elementary schools and the early childhood center.

Currently the people who live in the Algonac Community Schools district pay the second lowest-rate in St. Clair County, a ‘yes vote’ would have put them in the middle of the pack for that area.

Superintendent John Stryker told 7 Action News that they’ll hold off on bringing the millage a second time this year, because of other funding mechanisms that are due for the next election cycle. He’s hoping to not confuse the two issues, but noted that he’s confident they’re heading in the right direction.

“Our technology is eight to 10 years old,” said Stryker. “I think few people would argue that we need to update that technology. Few people would argue that we need to keep our heating and cooling adequate.”

There are also leaks in several schools that have led to damaged roofing — Neumann said he’s not sure how much money they’ll ultimately raise, or how they’ll direct it to the school but he’s excited that since he initially announced his plan to raise funds for the school, there has been growing support.

“We know the ‘no vote’ was a message,” said Neumann. “Whether it’s with the board, the teachers or wherever the message is out there, they get it. They that that they have to be on point going forward, but we have to do what’s right by the kids.”