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.

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    HOMECOMING—One senior candidate will be chosen Morenci’s fall homecoming queen during half-time ceremonies Friday at the football field. In the back row are seniors Mikayla Price, who will be escorted by Mason Vaughn; Madison Bachman, escorted by Kiegan Merillat, and Mikayla Reinke, escorted by Griffin Grieder. Senior Ariana Roseman is absent from the photo. Her escort is Garrett Smith. In the front is sophomore Abbie White, who will be escorted by Ryder Price; junior Madysen Schmitz, escorted by Harley McCaskey and freshman Madison Keller, escorted by Jarett Cook.
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    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.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • 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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