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.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    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.
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    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.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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