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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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