BY MICHAEL WALTON email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — It was closer than last year, but voters again rejected plans to raise tens of millions in new tax revenues to fund improvements at local schools.
Traverse City Area Public Schools’ $35.2-million, .2-mill millage request fell behind in early vote counts by a 3-to-2 margin Tuesday night and never recovered. Eventually the measure lost by roughly 250 votes, according to unofficial election results.
“This is tough to see all around,” TCAPS Superintendent Stephen Cousins said. “We won’t be able to come back any time soon. That means we’ll have to really look at a reallocation of current funds and general funds.”
TCAPS officials hoped the proposal would pay for reconstruction projects at Interlochen, Eastern and Glenn Loomis elementary schools, security improvements at Central High School and West Middle School, bus and technology replacements and several lesser capital projects.
An aversion to any and all tax increases appeared to guide TCAPS voters’ decisions. A separate TCAPS ballot proposal to fund auditorium reconstruction at Central High School also lost.
Aaron Matthews, of Grawn, said he voted against both TCAPS millages.
“Everybody is suffering,” Matthews said of current tax rates. “What’s going to be hitting us in the next few years already is enough.”
The main TCAPS ballot proposal would have cost the owner of a home worth $200,000 in market value about $20 per year in additional taxes.
Supporters of the TCAPS ballot proposals repeatedly evoked one axiom in defense of the millage request while funneling out of polling stations Tuesday afternoon.
“Our children are our future leaders,” said Michelle Fiebing, a mother of three TCAPS students who lives Blair Township. “They need the best facilities and tools that we can provide.”
Last year’s $100-million TCAPS ballot proposal lost at the polls by nearly 7,000 votes. TCAPS officials reviewed what went wrong in that election for months before they decided to turn to the voters again with two separate requests: the $35.2 million main proposal and a separate proposal for an auditorium reconstruction at Central.
The revamped proposals did not convince residents like Mark Collison, of Garfield Township, who voted against both TCAPS questions.
“They don’t need any more money,” Collison said. “They should have budgeted their money better to start with.”
TCAPS school board President Kelly Hall said she was surprised by the election outcome, given the district’s preparation, and data which suggested voters would support the main proposal.
“I’m disappointed for the district, for the kids; frankly I’m disappointed for the region,” Hall said.
“I just feel really defeated.”