Voters defeat Saline schools millage
Editor's note: This story has been revised to correct the vote count.
Voters in the Saline school district turned down a ballot request Tuesday to extend the length of the current bond and add $28 million in new debt for buses, infrastructure, technology and security upgrades.
The measure received 2,629 yes votes (48.59 percent) and 2,782 no votes (51.41 percent).
The new bond proposal would have extended the length of repayment of the current $124 million bond by six years. Homeowners in the Saline school district are paying taxes on the current bond from 2000 until 2025; this year’s proposal would have extended the repayment period until 2031.
“There was no money from the bond built into the 2010-11 budget, so in that way we don’t have to make a lot of changes right away,” said Saline Superintendent Scot Graden. “However, it does really set up the 2011-12 budget for painful choices.
“Some of the projects and upgrades to infrastructure really need to be done. Without a bond to pay for it, we’ll have to look at operational dollars to cover those costs.”
The additional $18 million in new loans in the proposal would have cost the district $12 million in interest. The money must be used for things like infrastructure repairs, busing, security and technology.
Bond money can't be used to pay for school employees’ salaries or benefits.
The district tried pass the bond now because low interest federal loans are provided until Sept. 30 under the stimulus package.
Graden said he’s interested in going back to the community to ask residents why they voted against it and what projects they favored and what ones they didn't support in the proposal.
The defeat of the millage Tuesday comes on the heels of the defeat of a countywide enhancement millage for schools last fall.
Graden said he understands the economy is making the community “reticent” with tax dollars.
Still, he pointed out voters passed a sinking fund and the CARES millage in May 2009.
“If people understand the value and importance of what is being asked for, they’ve been supportive,” he said.
David Jesse covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 734-623-2534.