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White Lake taxpayers will be asked to dig a little deeper for school funds
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White Lake district taxpayers, who have shown a willingness to support their school through higher property taxes time and time again, will be asked to dig deeper into their pockets in April.

The board of education has formally approved the paperwork necessary to hold an April 1 referendum seeking $250,000 annually above state-imposed revenue limits over the next three years to maintain existing programs.

Vote was 6-1, with Tammy Stegall opposed.

“Were asking voters to continue the tradition they established in 2001, when they passed the first in an ongoing series of referendums to exceed state revenue limits,” District Administrator Bill Fisher said. “It’s not uncommon for a small, rural school district to have to go this route.”

The referendum dollars will replace a $200,000, three-year revenue cap override approved in April, 2011 that is expiring this year, and will be used to maintain existing programs.

But even with the extra $50,000 a year, Fisher said projections indicate the district will still have to make up an $70,000 annual deficit.

“If this is approved, the district will still need to make some reductions,” he said.

The cost is steep, estimated at 95 cents per $1,000 of equalized valuation. That means that the owner of a $100,000 home could expect to see taxes for the school increase by $95 if the plan is successful. Twenty-nine cents of that increase is the additional $50,000 being sought. The remaining 66 cents is due to other factors, including increased enrollments that are allowing the district to spend more under state-imposed limits and state aid payments that are declining 15 percent. That’s forcing more of the costs on local taxpayers.

White Lake school district residents currently pay $11.48 per $1,000 of valuation. If the plan succeeds, the rate will climb to $12.43. If it fails, that amount would fall to $10.92.

Fisher said the higher level is a concern, but noted that the district was flirting with $12 mill rates as far back as 2010. The level has declined since that time due to some tough steps taken by the board, including the implementation of the state’s Act 10 legislation which increased the amount teachers pay toward insurance and pensions and decreased union bargaining power.

The district floated its first successful revenue-limit exemption in 2001, with voters approving them since. The amounts have ranged from $200,000 to $250,000 annually for three to five years.


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A file photo of the White Lake school, the focus of an April referendum.
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Mail to: Fred Berner
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