Monday, July 4, 2022

Voters narrowly say ‘no’ to restoring Ionia Public Schools operating millage

IONIA — Voters in the Ionia Public Schools district on Tuesday narrowly defeated a proposal to restore the non-homestead operating millage from 17.5048 mills to its original 18 mills to support schools.

Ben Gurk

The unofficial tally of “no” votes was 1,051, or 51.85%, while “yes” votes numbered 976, or 48.15%.

Voter turnout was 14.87%, with 2,031 ballots cast of 13,661 registered voters.

“We are grateful for everyone who participated in the democratic process,” Superintendent Ben Gurk told the Daily News. “We will continue to support our students, staff, families and community in every way possible. We will persevere in seeking restoration of our full per-pupil funding; our students and staff deserve it.”

The proposal would have restored full per-pupil funding by increasing taxes on non-homestead properties such as industrial, commercial and investment properties, along with vacation homes and rental properties, by less than $50 for every $100,000 of non-homestead taxable value. It would not have impacted primary residences or agricultural-zoned property.

Maintaining the reduced rate of 17.5048 mills means a loss in funding to the school’s general fund of $70,641 a year, keeping the district in the bottom 7% of per-pupil funding among districts in Michigan.

The non-homestead operating millage was reduced in 2020 by statute under the Headlee Amendment, which requires a millage reduction when property values rise faster than the rate of inflation.

Currently, 93% of the school districts in Michigan levy more non-homestead mills than Ionia, according to Gurk.

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