Sinking Fund Election - August 4, 2020
The Board of Education and administration are committed to maintaining our facilities in good condition for thousands of students and community members that use our facilities on a daily basis. This is why, on November 5, 2013, our voters approved a 1 mill Building & Site Fund proposal, commonly known as a Sinking Fund. Since then, we have been able to replace roofs, upgrade equipment to save energy costs and maintain our parking lots and driveways with asphalt replacement. Without the approval in 2013, the district would have had to shift millions of general fund dollars from precious programs and extra-curricular activities to address necessary infrastructure repairs. On behalf of the students, staff and community members that have used our facilities over the last 7 years, we thank you for your support.
With that 2013 Building & Site Fund proposal coming to an end, we will be asking our community, on August 4, 2020, to replace the Building & Site Fund. This proposal, if approved by the voters, will replace and extend the authority last approved by the electors in 2013. This proposal allows the use of proceeds of the millage for all purposes permitted by law as well as newly authorized security improvements and the acquisition or upgrading of technology. Our responsibility as stewards of the community’s assets and trust is to ensure that our citizens are aware of this proposal and if approved by the voters are clearly informed of the needs that will be addressed over the coming years. Here are some facts that the voters should know:
WHAT WILL THE MONEY BE USED FOR?
Building & Site Fund dollars are highly restricted. Generally, Building & Site Fund expenditures are for building/facility renovations, additions, or property purchase/improvements. Examples of how Building & Site Fund dollars can be used include building renovations; wiring for WIFI; Reconfiguring entry vestibules and creating more secure visitor access control; resurfacing or repairing roofs, asbestos abatement, and internal/external signage. At this time, the district is interested in maintaining our aging facilities and has no interest in purchasing property. The district will be purchasing devices to expand our inventory of computers, making sure each student has access to technology.
WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS ON THE MONEY?
Building & Site Fund dollars CANNOT be used for: salaries or benefits; buses or other vehicles; equipment such as routine maintenance items; or furnishings such as tables, desks, and chairs.
The Lowell Area Schools believes in investing in our children’s future. We will continue to address the most pressing infrastructure needs in order to provide safe and healthy learning environments to ensure the best educational experience possible. Remember to cast your important vote on August 4, 2020!
LOWELL AREA SCHOOLS
BUILDING AND SITE SINKING FUND
REPLACEMENT MILLAGE PROPOSAL
This proposal, if approved by the electors, will replace and extend the authority last approved by the electors in 2013 and which expires with the 2020 levy for Lowell Area Schools to levy a building and site sinking fund millage. This proposal allows the use of proceeds of the millage for all purposes previously permitted by law as well as newly authorized security improvements and the acquisition or upgrading of technology. Pursuant to State law the expenditure of the building and site sinking fund millage proceeds must be audited, and the proceeds cannot be used for teacher, administrator or employee salaries, maintenance or other operating expenses.
Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property within the school district of Lowell Area Schools, Kent and Ionia Counties, Michigan, be increased by and the board of education be authorized to levy a new additional millage of not to exceed 1 mill ($1.00 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) to create a sinking fund to be used for the construction or repair of school buildings, for school security improvements, for the acquisition or upgrading of technology, for the purchase of real estate, and all other purposes authorized by law, for a period of six (6) years, 2021 through 2026, inclusive (estimated to provide revenues of approximately $907,580 in 2021)?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a Sinking Fund?
A: A building and site sinking fund is a savings account into which a local school district can deposit voter approved local millage revenue in order to fund projects or major repairs as they arise rather than having to borrow through short-term notes or long-term bonds.
Q: What is the difference between a sinking fund and a bond?
A: A sinking fund is a pay as you go collection of dollars (in our case we are asking for 1 mill or approximately $900,000 a year) to address specific district facility issues, security issues, and technology upgrades. A bond is like a home mortgage which helps the district to do many projects at one time, or major projects such as building a building, replacing all the roofs or parking lots, etc.
Q: How does a sinking fund preserve general fund dollars?
A: The sinking fund dollars provide an avenue for increasing security, repair of buildings, or purchasing technology without affecting the general operation of the district. In the event that a roof or septic field fails, having these dollars to make repairs does not put a burden on the general fund.
Q: What can you use a sinking fund for?
A: Funds can be used to increase security, for repair or construction of buildings, to purchase technology, or purchase real estate for future building sites.
Q: Does the district go into debt and pay interest on sinking fund dollars?
A: No, this process involves collecting the dollars on a yearly basis and is a pay as you go process.
Q: Can sinking fund dollars be used to pay salaries and benefits?
A: No, expenses will be audited annually for compliance with Michigan Department of Treasury guidelines.
Q: What technology can be purchased with sinking fund dollars?
A: Infrastructure, computers, smart boards, chrome books, desktops, printers, projection units, etc. when used for instruction. Technology is a key component for 21st century learning.
Q: How will passage of the Building and Site Sinking Fund millage benefit students and the community?
A: If approved, the money raised through the Building and Site Sinking Fund millage will:
- Protect the community’s investment in the school district’s buildings and facilities.
- Continue to provide our students a safe, secure and healthy environment.
- Reduce pressure on the general fund so more of the school district’s limited educational operating funds are available to support student learning.
- Maintain learning facilities that represent one part of the district’s effort to keep and attract residents
Q: Who do I contact if I have questions?
A: Superintendent Pratt via email or (616) 987-2501
Absentee Ballots available at City and Townships - June 20th
Last day to register to vote (other than in-person) - July 20
Election Day- August 4th, 7am - 8pm