Washtenaw County school enhancement millage foes lead money race
Opponents of a countywide schools enhancement millage are outspending supporters of the proposal by nearly $30,000, campaign finance records released today show.
The only opposition group to file a contribution report was Citizens for Responsible Washtenaw.
The group, which lists Albert Berriz as its treasurer, has received two donations - both from McKinley, an Ann Arbor real estate company, records show. Berriz is president and CEO of McKinley.Â
McKinley donated $50,000, followed by a $25,000 contribution.
“I’m very passionate,” about the issue, he said. “I am confident that this millage will not address the financial structural issues of the schools.”
In an e-mail sent Friday, he called on school leaders to improve the transparency of the schools’ finances. He also said the reality of Washtenaw County is families are struggling, and the tax is too high.
“I love Ann Arbor schools,” he said. “But it’s my obligation is to say things candidly.”
The records showÂ Citizens for Responsible WashtenawÂ has spent $4,705 of that money so far.
The other main opposition group, Citizens for Responsible School Spending, filed a campaign finance report waiver saying it intended to raise and spend under $1,000.
Leading donations for the proponents came from the county’s teacher and administrator unions, led by $5,000 from the Ann Arbor Administrator Association.
In total, county teacher and administrative unions have given more than $12,000, record show.
The supporters have two groups.Â
The first, Citizens Millage Committee, is based in Ann Arbor and generally has contributions from Ann Arbor residents.Â That group has raised $23,361, records show. After expenditures, the committee has $10,433 left to spend.
The other group, Friends of Education, is based in Dexter. It has contributions totaling $21,654 and has $9,860 left to spend.
Contributors include most area school superintendents, many area school board members, several school administrators and teachers. Donations also came from several firms that do business with area schools.
The largest donation is $2,480 from the Federation of Washtenaw Intermediate School Employees.
Steven Norton, the campaign manager for the Citizens Millage Committee, said union contributions will amount to about one-fourth of the group's total budget by the time the race is over.
“If you look at the rest of the filings, the majority of what we have has been in relatively small contributions from individuals of all stripes,” he said. “We’ve always planned to run a grassroots campaign.”
Norton said his group is planning door-to-door canvassing this weekend and other one-on-one campaigns.
Editor's note:Â Berriz was one of two community members on AnnArbor.com's editorial board, but resigned the position this week due to his involvement in the school enhancement millage campaign.
David Jesse covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 734-623-2534.