Millage Proposal FAQs

On November 8, 2022, voters in the Saugatuck Public School District will be asked whether to the approve of three separate millage proposals.  On the ballot will be (1) an operating millage proposal, (2) a millage proposal to provide funds to operate a system of public recreation and playgrounds, and (3) a sinking fund millage proposal.  These are not new taxes, as voters approved virtually identical operating millage and community recreation proposals in 2019, and a sinking fund proposal in 2018.

What is a non-homestead operating millage?

With the passage of Proposal A in 1994, Michigan schools are generally funded through a total of 24 mills levied on non-homestead property.  This is a combination of a state wide millage rate of 6 mills on all property and 18 mills levied by school districts on non-homestead property when approved by local voters.

Under Proposal A, the state guarantees the district’s foundation allowance per pupil and in Saugatuck, the majority of our operating funds come from the millage on non-homestead property.  To receive full funding from the state, however, a school district must levy 18 mills on non-homestead property.

What does non-homestead mean? 

Non-homestead represents industrial, commercial and some agricultural property and “second homes”.  It does not include a family’s primary residence.

Why does the operating millage proposal have a “hold harmless” provision?

Saugatuck Public Schools has a 1.5 mills hold harmless millage included in the operating millage proposal. Under Proposal A, a qualifying district may levy a large enough homestead property tax millage to produce a total state and local revenue equal to the amount that was available to the district in 1995. The effect is to allow a hold-harmless district such as Saugatuck to continue to receive at least as much under Proposal A as it did before Proposal A. This ballot proposal, if approved by the voters, would help  ensure that Saugatuck would be able to collect the full hold harmless amount locally during this five-year period of time.  The district opted not to levy this hold harmless millage for the 2022-23 tax year.

How does the operating millage proposal impact school funding for the district?

The combination of the 18 mills on non-homestead property and the hold harmless mills would generate approximately $7,277,966  for the 2023-24 school year, which is approximately 65% of the district’s operating budget. If this proposal does not pass, the State of Michigan would not replace the $7,277,966  of funding, which would limit the ability of the Saugatuck Public School system to operate.  In that event, the school district would need to cut the same amount of expenditures from its operating budget.

Why does the ballot language ask for an increase of 22 mills for the operating millage?

Under Proposal A, the district cannot levy more than 18 mills on non-homestead properties, even if it is voter approved. Saugatuck Public Schools is seeking an increase of 22

mills in its ballot language, with 4 additional mills included to guard against losing revenue due to a future Headlee Amendment roll back. Even though only 18 mills can be levied at any time, by approving more than 18 mills, the school district would likely be able to continue levying 18 mills for the foreseeable future in order to receive full funding from the State. 

What is the millage proposal to provide funds to operate a system of public recreation and playgrounds?

If approved by voters, this will allow the Saugatuck Public Schools to continue to operate the community recreation program for the next five years (through 2027-28). The millage rate would remain the same at 0.25 mills as the voters approved in 2019, and, if approved, would raise approximately $202,596  in 2023-24 to operate the community recreation program. This equates to 100% of community recreation funding.

How are community recreation funds used?

Since 2005, Saugatuck Public Schools’ Community Recreation has been funded by a 0.25 mill tax levy.  Community Recreation serves over 2,500 community members annually through participation in over 60 leagues, events and clubs.  Over 87% of students attending Douglas Elementary School participate in community recreation programming such as swim lessons, sports leagues, summer sports camps, and ski club.  Programs for adults in our community include pickleball, tennis, self-defense, hiking club, yoga, fitness boot camp, volleyball and basketball.

What is the sinking fund proposal?

The third ballot proposal is a three year proposal for the building and site sinking fund millage to fund ongoing technology purchases and upgrades, and future repairs to school facilities not covered by the 2020 bond proposal.  The millage rate would remain the same at 0.50 mills, as approved by voters in 2018.  If approved, this millage would generate approximately $405,193 annually.

What can building and site sinking funds be used for?

Building and site sinking funds may provide for the construction or repair of school buildings, for school security improvements, the purchasing real estate for sites, and the acquiring and the upgrading of technology.  In the past, the district has used the building and site sinking fund to upgrade technology including classroom technology and student Chromebooks, to replace the boiler at the MS/HS, to repair heating and cooling systems and roofing, for school security, and to resurface the track and tennis courts.

How does the district’s debt millage and sinking fund millage compare to other districts in Ottawa and Allegan counties?

The following graph shows that Saugatuck Public Schools continues to have the lowest combined debt and sinking fund millage in Ottawa and Allegan counties.

Paid for by: Saugatuck Public Schools, 201 Randolph Street, Douglas, Michigan 49406