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August 20, 2014

UCS to ask voters to renew nonhomestead millage

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

A proposal to renew a millage on nonhomestead properties in the Utica Community Schools district will await voters on the Nov. 4 ballot, according to school officials.

The UCS Board of Education approved the proposal’s ballot placement in a unanimous vote at an Aug. 11 meeting.

Stephanie Eagen, assistant superintendent for business and finance, said after the meeting that the current nonhomestead millage is set to expire at the end of 2014, which would mean that a renewal is necessary in order to levy the tax for July 2015.

Under Michigan’s Proposal A, the school district is obligated to direct such a funding request to voters. Eagen said the millage started in 1994 under Proposal A and was renewed in 2004. The proposed renewal is set at 17.9316 mills, officials said.

According to UCS officials, the proposed 10-year millage renewal represents an estimated $27 million in funding annually. Eagen said the money raised by the non-homestead millage goes to UCS’s general operating budget.

Officials say the renewal is necessary for upholding the school district’s capability to deliver current educational programs, adding that the millage money will fund school building utilities, classroom supplies and instructors.

“If this millage fails, the state will not make up the (loss),” she said. “It’s not an enhancement — it’s part of our basic funding.”

A millage renewal would not affect owner-occupied homes, nor will it impact homeowners’ tax bills, according to UCS spokesman Tim McAvoy.

McAvoy said the millage will instead apply to rental, commercial and industrial properties, as well as second homes, within the school district’s boundaries. He said about 24 percent of the UCS district is nonhomestead, with the other 76 percent being owner-occupied homes.

“Nonhomestead allows us to receive our full per-pupil (foundation allowance),” he added.

McAvoy added that the district plans to provide millage information over the next few months.

“There will be information at everyone’s local school if they want more information, or they can go to our website,” he said.

Learn more about Utica Community Schools by visiting www.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1000.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.