By an overwhelming margin, a $2.5 million a year sinking fund millage for Bloomfield Hills Schools, which will replace its current one, for .7165 mills, for use on emergency building projects, including for safety, security and technology, was approved by voters on Tuesday, May 8.
With all 22 precincts reporting, 72.11 percent of voters, 4,005 votes, approved the millage, which district officials portrayed as an early renewal of their existing sinking fund millage, with the additional caveat that a recent change in state legislation now allows for sinking fund dollars to be utilized for safety, security and technology upgrades, including security cameras, acquisition or upgrades in technology. Bloomfield Hills spokesperson Shira Good said several Bloomfield Hills schools continue to require these upgrades.
A total of 5,554 voters cast ballots in the special election. Of those opposed to the millage, 27.89 percent, for a total of 1,549 votes, voted against the measure.
“We are extremely grateful to our taxpayers for approving this sinking fund replacement,"said superintendent Dr. Rob Glass. "Although the new sinking fund has not increased over its previous rate, we now have the flexibility to use these monies to improve our security and technology infrastructure while continuing to make important building repairs. I believe we have demonstrated good stewardship with sinking funds in the past and we will continue to do so going forward."
Bloomfield Hills Schools first levied for a 10-year sinking fund in 2004, at 1.5 mills. A schools' sinking fund is a savings account into which a local district can deposit voter-approved local millage revenue in order to pay cash for urgent building projects or repairs as they arise.
Voters will see the first levy of the millage on their July 2018 taxes; the previous millage was set to expire after the December 2018 taxes. This millage will last for six years, from 2018 through 2023, with the anticipation it will raise over $2.5 million during the 2018 calendar year.
Anticipated uses for the millage include plans to add bus GPS and more security cameras as well as plans to install the Bluepoint Emergency Alert system in each school; bulletproof glass or glass film to glass doors, which would help in the first two minutes in the event of an active shooter situation, while police is responding; and place bollards outside of main entrances of each school, which would withstand high-impact vehicle collisions.
As for other uses of the millage dollars, Good said the district does not plan their sinking fund multiple years out. “We're sometimes surprised when items decide to 'jump to the front' of the line – like a boiler that quits working before the roof starts leaking. If that happens, we tackle the boiler and we may choose to then repair the roof instead of replacing it,” she said. “Those are the decisions we make and we are constantly monitoring the buildings to get a sense of 'what's next' on the list.”