Keys, keys, keys. We all have keys to various things; cars, the house, and the office. In education, funding is one of the main keys to excellent teaching and learning environments. On Tuesday, November 2, 2021, Columbia School District voters will have the opportunity to vote on a sinking fund levy proposal.
You may have some questions regarding this proposal, so here are some questions and answers: Why is this sinking fund proposal important for the Columbia School District? The Columbia School District is looking to our school community to consider a sinking fund to help with technology purchases, increase student safety, and facility updates.
How can funds from a sinking fund be spent? Sinking Funds cannot fund regular maintenance, purchasing teaching supplies or textbooks, or paying teacher and administrator salaries. The law requires districts with Sinking Funds to keep these funds separate from other district accounts. Sinking Funds must also receive a separate audit each year to ensure they are being spent appropriately.
What is the difference between a sinking fund and a bond proposal? In Michigan, a Sinking Fund is a millage levied to support school safety improvements, technology improvements, and the repair and construction of school buildings. It is a “pay as you go” system that does not require borrowing money or paying interest. Sinking Funds cannot fund regular maintenance, purchasing teaching supplies or textbooks, or paying teacher and administrator salaries. The law requires districts with Sinking Funds to keep these funds separate from other district accounts. Sinking Funds must so receive a separate audit each year to ensure they are being spent appropriately. Having a Sinking Fund to pay for safety improvements, technology improvements, and repairs would allow the district to preserve the money it receives from the state to support instruction, programs, and salaries. A bond is a maximum loan amount that must be sold or paid off when it matures. It cannot be used for salaries, maintenance or operational items.
Would the approval of the sinking fund have any impact on our current school operation budget? Having a Sinking Fund to pay for safety updates, technology improvements, and facility enhancements would allow the district to preserve the money it receives from the state to support student instruction, programs, and salaries.
How will the proposed 2021 sinking fund affect my tax rate? The Sinking Fund millage is calculated using the taxable value of a home, which is usually about half of the assessed value. Columbia School District is proposing a .65 mill sinking fund, which is 65 cents per $1,000 of taxable valuation for ten years. If approved, the increase on current tax rates would be expected to be “Net Neutral” because the district’s 2022 debt millage is expected to drop by the same .65 mill amount.
The drop in debt millage that would cause this to be “Net Neutral” was made possible in part because the Columbia School Board of Education voted last winter to refund its 2013 bonds. Similar to refinancing a home at a better interest rate, the district’s taxpayers were able to benefit.
Please feel free to contact me directly ator at 5175926641 with any questions regarding our Sinking Fund program. I encourage you to engage with the Columbia School District Board, committee members and staff members for more information.