Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 19, 2013

Mancelona schools to seek bond

TRAVERSE CITY — Mancelona Public Schools will ask voters next week to approve a $1.93 million bond for technology and new buses.

The proposed bond will levy .3 mills in 2013 if approved. But taxpayers will pay no more mills than they did in 2012 because the existing 3.85 debt millage will decrease by .3 mills.

”They are replacing the millage which is falling off with mills for the new bond,” said R.J. Naughton, vice president of the district’s Ann Arbor-based financial advisor firm Stauder, Barch and Associates.

District officials hope to spend bond money on 13 buses over the next nine years, as well as projectors and sound systems for classrooms, computer lab upgrades and other tech tools.

The district needs the bond in light of stagnant state funding for local districts, MPS Superintendent Jeffery DiRosa said.

”To keep up with technology is really a problem, and most of that is because of school funding,” he said, adding, “Over time we will not be able to replace buses and that will become a problem for transportation.”

MPS currently operates 12 buses which together cover about 137,000 miles annually. All but two of those buses are more than eight years old, and nine have logged more than 110,000 miles.

Voters last approved an MPS bond proposal by 89 votes in 1997. That measure designated almost $16 million to rebuild the district’s high school and to remodel the middle and elementary schools.

The district promoted next week’s millage vote with flyers explaining how bond money will be spent, and how taxpayers’ debt millage will remain at 2012 levels.

DiRosa expects that information plus the district’s record of fiscal responsibility will result in a win at the polls.

”I feel good about it,” he said. “We’ve done the best with what we’ve had. We are prudent and try to be as wise as we can with taxpayer money.”

Polls will be open on Feb. 26 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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