School bond: Board seeks May 7 voter approval of bond extension 2013.05.01

Written by David Green.

Morenci school district voters will consider two proposals during a special election Tuesday, May 7. The operating millage proposal is placed before voters every year, but the bond proposal is a new request—a proposal that will cost taxpayers no additional money.

OPERATING—The operating millage is the annual request to allow the district to assess the full 18-mills on non-homestead property, such as vacation homes, apartment buildings, rental homes and commercial/industrial property.

The Headlee rollback approved by Michigan legislators in 2004 reduces taxes levied, but voter approval allows the full 18 mills on certain properties.

Although the ballot language describes the proposal as an increase, it’s actually a renewal of the existing millage.

BOND—Morenci Elementary School is more than 50 years old and the high school has passed the 40-year mark. Both buildings are in need of repair and improvements.

Morenci Board of Education members are seeking voter approval of a bonding proposal that will bring in an estimated $2.96 million over a 19-year period.

“This will make sure we have the money needed to take care of maintenance issues,” said board president Scott Merillat, noting that money is not available in the general fund.

“Our financial problems will only get worse if we have to take money from the general fund,” he said.

Funds generated from the bond cannot go toward salaries and benefits, Merillat said, but that money will help the district avoid using money designated for classroom education.

“Even if the bond passes,” he said, “we’re still going to be in financial difficulty.”

Merillat said the district has been fortunate that no major physical emergencies have arisen in recent years—a situation that would have plunged the district deeper into debt—and money from the bond proposal will address some needs before they become more expensive.

A proposed list of building improvements includes the following: heating and plumbing upgrades, asbestos abatement, filtration systems, energy efficiency upgrades, high school parking lot repairs, roof repair, press box repair, bleacher repair (inside and outside), fire panel upgrades, weight room ventilation, transportation heaters, security improvements and new buses.

Upgrades to internet delivery systems are needed in all three school buildings.

  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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