What is the truth behind the two Pontiac School Millages on the ballot next month?
Finding out is the the goal of a town hall meeting Monday night. It is happening at the Newman A-M-E Church in Pontiac at 7 o’clock. Organizers of the event say panelists and attendees will discuss the pros and cons of both millages, the current financial and academic situation in Pontiac schools, the district’s goals, and the possible outcomes of the millages’ passage or defeat.
The panelists include Brian Whiston, the State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Oakland Schools Superintendent, and Robert F. Moore Jr., Oakland Schools Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Operations.
On March 8th voters in the Pontiac School District will be asked to decide on two millages. One is a sinking fund millage that would be used to fund building repairs. School leaders say it would cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $140 a year.
This is the third attempt at passing the sinking fund millage, which fell 116 votes short of passing during the most recent vote in August. The sinking fund millage would be used exclusively for building repairs throughout the district’s 11 buildings – including replacing old boilers, upgrading fire alarms and security systems, repairing roofs/ceilings and more.
A non-homestead (operating millage) is a tax only on businesses and homes that are not designated as a primary residence – such as rental properties, second homes, commercial properties and certain types of agricultural properties. This tax is paid by landlords, not renters.
Renters, however, can vote on this tax. The non-homestead millage is not a new tax. Funds are used for general operations and resources. The proposal renews the 18-mill operating levy to fully fund the district, as required by state law to receive the district’s full per-pupil foundation grant.
7 Action News observed many signs protesting the millage in suburbs around the city of Pontiac, that are within the school district.
Many opposed to the millage don’t want to be a part of the Pontiac School District at all. They want to see the district dissolved, and kids in Pontiac Schools sent to other school districts.
Jim Endres has protested the millage. He says he simply doesn’t have faith in the district’s ability to handle money.
The district says without the millages it will not have the money it needs to operate and keep buildings safe enough to be open. Some of the infrastructure is sixty years old and needs to be updated.