Kalamazoo County Votes on Tax Renewal

By Lauren McGlinn For a number of Loy Norrix seniors, Tuesday, May 3 will be their first opportunity to exercise their right to vote, which is the foundation of our democratic government. In this election, one of the questions Kalamazoo County registered voters will be asked to vote on is the renewal of a three-year, 1.5 mill property tax.

The millage that is on the ballot is a renewal millage that helps to fund operations of all Kalamazoo County school districts in the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA) based on the schools’ student count. Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) has received $4.2 million annually from this millage. As a renewal millage, if it passes, taxpayers will be paying the same millage rates as they have paid in the past; there would be no increase of rates. If the millage does not pass, there will be a decrease in taxes of $90 annually for the typical homeowner with a taxable home market value of $120,000, or 25 cents per day.

According to Gary Start, the Deputy Superintendent of KPS, “The enhancement millage generates $4.2 million for KPS, annually. If the renewal is defeated, KPS would lose this money. This would be on top of the cut we experience as part of the state budget. The governor is proposing an $11 million cut to KPS. If this cut is approved by the legislature, and the enhancement millage is defeated, KPS would lose $15.2 million.” School districts rely on state funding. This local countywide millage is one of the only avenues that can bring operational dollars to the school districts in the county.

According to Dr. Rice, the Superintendent of KPS, “If approved, the millage would provide more than $11 million countywide, more than $4 million of which would continue to benefit KPS students. If the millage were to fail, however, the district would have to cut another $4 million from its budget, beyond the cuts that the governor has proposed and the state legislature is considering. The cuts under consideration by the state legislature are already enormous; additional cuts would have an additional harmful effect on children and schools.”