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January 3, 2014

Elk Rapids schools millage slated for special election

TRAVERSE CITY — If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

It’s a maxim Elk Rapids Public Schools officials are practicing as they prepare to hold a special millage election in February, roughly three months after voters rejected the same millage proposal in the November election.

Elk Rapids school board member Aaron Cook said district officials decided to make the millage request again because the outcome of the last election was so close — the proposal lost by roughly a dozen votes.

“It’s certainly not an easy decision to do it again, but we felt it was worth an additional election to make sure that all the voters had the opportunity to weigh in on the subject,” Cook said. “It is extremely important to the district to receive appropriate funding for the students in our area.”

Superintendent Steve Prissel said the special election, scheduled for Feb. 25, is not an attempt to sneak a tax increase by voters. District officials want to further educate voters about projects tied to the proposed tax increase and make sure they know when the election is, he said.

Prissel estimated the February election will cost the district about $8,000, but that number could change if other proposals are added to special election ballots in the six townships that make up Elk Rapids Public Schools.

The proposed .83-mill increase, if approved, will generate nearly $10.9 million for a new gymnasium at the district’s high school, improvements to athletic facilities, security upgrades at all district schools and other capital projects. It will cost the owner of a home worth $200,000 about $83 per year, Prissel said.

Cook said school board members consciously kept the district’s millage rate low during recent tough economic times. But Elk Rapids Public Schools now needs more money in order to offer a quality education to students.

“We’re looking to provide the first-class education that students in Elk Rapids deserve,” he said.

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